A debut collection that offers a small (both in substance and scope) though intimate glimpse into the daily lives of the inhabitants of a fictionalized Mexican-American bordertown.
Standing individually, these pieces would not carry the same weight—it's through their being woven together, like a family or a neighborhood, that their strength emerges: by creating a familiarity with and among the characters and their lives, the author realizes a sense of the poignancy of the tragedies and sorrows that take place in the small town of Mesquite. The first story, “Even in Heaven,” examines the life of a woman, Cookie McDonald, who is known to her neighbors as La Malinche, after the famous Mexican traitor; Cookie is so ashamed of her Mexican heritage that she trains a pair of binoculars on the border and reports illegal crossings to the INS. As we step out of her apartment into the harsh Arizona sunlight, we are introduced to her neighbors. Among them is Flaco, whose brother Riquis kills the cat of a young girl, Tonantzin, from the house behind them. Flaco grows to adore Tonantzin, and in one of the most touching pieces here, “Cloud-Shadow,” he pledges his eternal love after discovering that she must move away. These two are not the only lovers in Mesquite. There are Mono the garbageman (the Ape), a man so ugly he never thought he would find love; his paramour, Esperanza, the maid he met while she was taking out her employer's trash; Dolores, a lonely, unfulfilled schoolteacher who is sleeping with her friend Mercy's husband and goes in search of love in Mexico only to find it in the arms of a young, sexy gigolo; and Cisco Lopez and his mysterious girl Blanca Rosa, who disappears like a dream after only one night.
A slight collection that explores the Latino community with sensitivity and respect.