AMERICAN OWNED LOVE by Robert Boswell
Kirkus Star

AMERICAN OWNED LOVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An ambitious, absorbing saga of family and community relations, set in present-day New Mexico, from the author of the well-received Mystery Ride (1993), etc. The town of Persimmon, which lies just across the Rio Grande from the Mexican-American colonia of Apura, is inhabited by such harmlessly distracted souls as 30ish Gay Schaefer and her adolescent daughter Rita; Gay's cousin Heart, a remote woman who's a recovering cancer patient; and Denny Redmon, the high-school basketball coach Gay dallies with--and strings along--while living apart from the husband whom she's never divorced and with whom she has frequently reunited. Apura houses more desperate and dangerous people, such as 19-year-old Rudy Salazar, a powder keg whose anger and resentment over his culture's second-class status will flame out and touch the Schaefers--and also the family of Enrique ""Henry"" Calzado, who've moved ""up"" to Persimmon. Boswell creates a vivid and disturbing picture of a society tested by the pressures of assimilation, in which the proud declaration that properties and businesses are exclusively ""American owned"" makes it painfully clear to the malcontent Rudy that ""most of the world operated at a distance and in a language he did not know."" The novel is generously, if a trifle mechanically, plotted and noteworthy for the compassion and insight that Boswell extends to virtually all his characters. He writes exquisite and arousing sex scenes, and knows exactly how high-school kids swagger and banter. As convincing as his confused and self-conscious adults are, Boswell excels at portraying adolescents: both Enrique's efforts to Americanize himself (he adores River Phoenix and My Oven Private Idaho) and Rita's passage through sexual humiliation and violence to ""purity"" are presented with lucid straightforwardness and sympathetic understanding. Splendid work, from a novelist who keeps getting better and better.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1997
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf