THE GUNS IN THE CLOSET by Jose Yglesias

THE GUNS IN THE CLOSET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A posthumous gathering of tales by the noted Cuban-American writer (The Old Gents, see below). Yglesias (191995) was an accomplished novelist who, judging from the pieces in this collection, his first and only, used the story form mainly to explore in miniature the themes that supported the more graceful architecture of his novels. Indeed, the last story here, ``An Idea for a Story,'' reads like a rough draft of his final novel, The Old Gents. Running throughout are the key motifs of his body of work, the debt owed to youth by age, the struggle to hold onto the political fervor of one's early years and, most of all, the tensions between Latino and non-Latino in the contemporary US, often as played out in a single person's identity. The best of these stories, ``The Place I Was Born'' and ``An Idea for a Story,'' have a wry, droll humor that serves to underline rather than undercut their basic seriousness. Other entries, particularly the title piece (a tale of a good, gray liberal whose son is involved in the 1968 Columbia University uprising), and ``In the Bronx'' (in which a middle-class Latina is forced to come to grips with her roots in the barrio) are weighed down with topical references that date awkwardly. For all the obvious sincerity of his political commitments, Yglesias is most inspired when writing about the micro-politics of family life and sex, as in ``Celia's Family'' and ``The Place I Was Born.'' It is useful to have his stories collected in one volume, but it's also clear that Yglesias was always a more effective writer when he worked on a larger canvas.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-55885-182-8
Page count: 185pp
Publisher: Arte Público
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996




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