Rechy's ninth novel (Marilyn's Daughter, City of Night, etc.) follows a Mexican-American woman through a day of tribulations in L.A.: it's a credible portrait, mixing Rechy's usual religious fascination with a gritty picture of life on the cusp in a greedy, success-oriented society. Amalia Gomez, in her mid-40s, lives in a stucco bungalow in Hollywood. Her life, a struggle to support Gloria, 15 (``using words even men would blush to hear''), and Juan, 17 (``Was he selling roca?''), is vividly rendered: ``Daily she moistened her thick eyelashes with saliva, to preserve the curl.'' The account begins with her impression of a silver cross in the sky and the possibility of a visitation from the Virgin; meanwhile, Amalia lives with Reynaldo, ``the only one of her men who had never hit her,'' and still mourns the death of oldest son Manny (who appeared as a barrio kid with an oversexed mother in Rechy's Bodies and Souls). The flashback to her growing-up time in El Paso becomes a mini-course in miracles, the ``mysteries of the Catechism,'' as she survives a drunken father, rapes and two divorces, and, in California, the ``sun-glassed Anglo police,'' who harass her if she works (cleaning) ``after hours in exclusive areas.'' Manny, after a series of altercations and a stint in a juvenile home, hangs himself in his jail cell; her daughter comes of age; Amalia loses herself in TV soaps and imagines tabloid headlines: ``AMALIA GOMEZ OF HOLLYWOOD CLAIMS VISITATION BY THE HOLY MOTHER!'' Surviving male humiliation (``A viejo like you should be grateful that a man like me even looks at her''), she's grabbed by a man with a gun in an L.A. shopping mall but survives to witness yet another visitation- -one she takes as gospel. One of Rechy's better efforts: this one survives some murkiness and a contrived climax because it dramatizes and integrates its sociological concerns.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 1-55970-115-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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