Beyond Telling: Stories

Jewel Mogan, Author
Jewel Mogan, Author Ontario Review Press $19.95 (173p) ISBN 978-0-86538-082-0
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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Set mostly in the latter part of this century in either Louisiana or Texas, the stories in this accomplished debut collection introduce characters drawn from a diverse cross section of America. Mogan's range is wide enough to do justice to both the narrator of ``Syzygy,'' a chillingly self-absorbed matron who long ago stole and married her twin sister's beau, and the angry, loving, AIDS-wracked gay lovers of ``See to Appreciate.'' In ``Desaparachos,'' which centers on a group of Salvadorans illegally migrating to the U.S., Mogan constructs a subtle biblical allegory while exploring the collision between the two cultures (which turns out to be literal as well as figurative). She also brilliantly captures the cadences and quirks of vernacular speech, as in ``See Ya Later, Floydada,'' in which a radio announcer offers for sale ""`a pire of what cheers upholstered in naugahyde.'"" Many of these intricately constructed stories end with a bittersweet nugget of revealed wisdom, such as the realization by the protagonist of ``The Proselyte,'' that ``from now on he would be carrying the burden of seeing partly through his parents' eyes, partly through Hector's but mostly through his own.'' Searing, unforgettable images--including a deserted, industrially poisoned town transformed into a bizarre and kitschy Christmas spectacle in ``A Certain Lot or Parcel of Land''--seem to be a specialty of this gifted writer. Bracing, original and peculiarly American, Mogan's voice is mature enough to explore public themes and issues like abortion, immigration and race with an insight that springs from her fidelity to her characters. (Apr.)
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