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by Leo Romero

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-927534-44-4
Publisher: Bilingual Review Press

 Seven stories about the Southwest and Los Angeles: a first collection by a poet and bookstore owner in Santa Fe. These trials of the pen are largely slice-of-life tales about outsiders trying to make do in foreign cultures. Longest is the title story, about a child, his abandoned mother and her lovers, his uncle, his comic books, and an orange crate in which he keeps the comics and which bears a logo of a woman with big bosom and bedroom eyes who's holding a tray of oranges--a logo the boy adores, names Los Angeles, and uses for an imaginary friend. In ``Pito,'' the lackadaisical, beer-drinking narrator befriends a dreary, sex-hungry dwarf who demands he bring a girl whenever he visits. After a while, the real girls drift into fantasy girls, mainly Diane Arbus, who comes to photograph the dwarf naked but at last commits suicide. Also visiting are the ghosts of James Dean and Jack Kerouac, who lies abed all day drinking wine and writing in small notebooks--in its way both the most revolting and most attractive story here. In ``Las Vegas, Las Vegas,'' the narrator looks back on the 1950s and tells what growing up in stuporous West Las Vegas, New Mexico, was like in those days. This is a story of details about going hungry for the last two weeks of every month, getting ice for the icebox, playing in a treehouse, and stooging for two little girls who liked to play ``dinner'' and serve him real food--a time that has faded into the ``Twilight Zone.'' In ``Petroglyphs,'' the record of centuries, carved in pictures onto basalt rocks, is explained to a claims inspector by an old woman who lives in a trailer. Reserved realism and fantasy mix nicely, but perhaps Romero will take a bigger bite and hit stronger chords with the novel form.