A MATTER OF PRIDE by Nicholasa Mohr


and Other Stories
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 Seven stories that focus on the lives of Hispanic women offer some intriguing possibilities, but the repetitiveness of the plots and the similarities of the characters' epiphanies lessen the impact. Told in a disappointing prose that explains rather than explores, Mohr's tales all touch on the lives of displaced women coming to terms with the restrictions of their culture. The title piece is symptomatic: In 1959, Paula and Charlie leave their native New York for a honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Paula expects the vacation of her dreams, but Charlie takes off with some old buddies and refuses to return until he's had his bit of fun--which leaves Paula in the restrictive house of relatives, where she's told how a new Puerto Rican wife is to act: A husband's infidelities are expected, and ironing his shirts so that he's presentable to his mistress is a matter of domestic pride. Paula realizes that she can't live so limited a life and opts for independence. Several stories are identical in agenda, depicting young Puerto Rican New Yorkers breaking free of their oppressive relationships with domineering men to explore their own identities. ``Memories: R.I.P.'' diverges in telling the tale of a close-knit family in the 1950s torn apart when an older brother starts to sell heroin from their South Bronx apartment. Younger sister Patty returns to the old neighborhood many years later to witness the urban decay that the onslaught of drugs--and indirectly her own family's complicity--helped create. ``Utopia, and the Super Estrellas'' presents a congenial portrait of transvestites in a remote mountain village, but the few stories that transcend the author's narrow pattern don't do enough to make up for the overall sameness of the collection. Mohr (Rituals of Survival, 1985), also a children's author, attempts a feminist interpretation, but the conclusions are often more facile than persuasive.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1997
ISBN: 1-55885-163-1
Page count: 164pp
Publisher: Arte Público
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997