Working-class Hispanics and Anglos getting through the days in Texas border towns, making just enough money to survive but never enough to leave. Quiet despair permeates these stories: a lonely, middle-aged woman makes a play for the plumber; young Mexican parents walk into an emergency room with a baby who may or may not be dead—and walk out again; an insane uncle embarrasses several generations of his family and is carted off to jail; another, a hobo, drops by for a more or less meaningless visit; a grown son returns home to find his aged father too weak even to kick a dog; a young Mexican delivery boy endures the mistreatment of his employers; a wedding long-ago ends in confused violence; West Texas cowboys use dynamite to level part of an old man’s ranch and then debate which hole to bury him in; a mentally ill man writes a strangely incoherent biography of the dead Kennedys and is committed to an asylum. Nothing much happens, and nothing at all ever changes. Futility is the common theme of all these plainly written tales. Which makes for dispiriting reading—especially since Garcia’s uniformly toneless style flattens any emotional subtext to the point of nonexistence. Dull dialogue and sketchy characterization certainly don’t help.