WHERE THE DEER AND THE CANTALOUPE PLAY by T. Ernesto Bethancourt

WHERE THE DEER AND THE CANTALOUPE PLAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Teddy Machado, a Puerto Rican New Yorker, loves cowboy movies, and when his great-grandfather Benito Machado, once a real cowboy, comes to stay, Teddy is in his element. The old man takes Teddy to all the Western movies, buys him boots, a Stetson, and a black cowboy outfit, and tells him about El Tigre, a Latino lawman who passed his Colt pistol on to Benito when he died. Even after his bisabuelo returns to California, and even after he has outgrown the cowboy outfit, Teddy wears it around his West Side neighborhood--daydreaming himself as El Tigre, generally creating a loco impression, and shaming his short-tempered macho father Lorenzo. Then bisabuelo dies, leaving his Colt to Teddy and his house to Lorenzo. The family moves to Inglewood, California, and Teddy continues to wear the ridiculous outfit--but his life changes when he meets Fast Draw champion Al Molina, a fellow Latino, gets a job with Al's gunsmith friend Tom O'Hanlon, begins practicing to be a Fast Draw champion himself, and, to boot, meets a nice girl who likes Westerns and plays up to Teddy in a way that flatters him but may strike readers as simpy. Finally, off to a bad start at his first Fast Draw contest, Teddy has grown enough to put his El Tigre fantasies behind him and, at the same time, win his father's respect. Bethancourt's basic idea has drawing power, there is at least one very funny scene, with New Yorker Lorenzo attempting to drive his family to Disneyland, and embedded in the story are some good old-fashioned morality, a colorful sprinkling of Spanish terms, and lots of cowboy and gun lore. But the writing is schematic, and Bethancourt never does give us a rounded picture of the solid Teddy behind the foolish fantasy.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1981
Publisher: Oak Tree