THE MIRACULOUS DAY OF AMALIA GOMEZ by John Rechy

THE MIRACULOUS DAY OF AMALIA GOMEZ

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55970-115-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991




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