With considerable, if uneven, success, the four novellas in this volume trace the intersecting paths of characters met in Gifford's Wild at Heart. In the best and longest, ``59 and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango,'' Gifford adapts real-life incidents to his fictional purpose as his ``weird and dangerous'' heroine with ``8-ball black eyes'' and a Caribbean-born, drug-dealing santeria priest whose rituals require human sacrifice team up to kidnap two American teenagers in Mexico and take them along on a crime spree in Texas and California. This story leads back to Louisiana and Lula's mother, Marietta Fortune, who announces, ``There's a Devil and he don't never quit,'' the lietmotif of these violence-ridden tales. Amid the usually abortive and often fatal activities of crime lords and small-time losers, Sailor and Lula Ripley prosper in both love and fortune, in the final story proud of their 30-year-old son, Pace, who's been in trouble and out, now leading trekking expeditions in Nepal. Gifford's sharp characterization, of people with names like Coot Veal, Dalceda Delahoussaye, the Rev. Goodin Plenty, is generally well served by on-pitch dialogue, though Sailor and Lula, in their 50s still sounding like adolescent runaways, provide an unconvincing center for the wild careenings elsewhere on stage. This volume is part of the publisher's Literary Landscape series, promoting works of fiction that claim to bring a particular setting vividly to life. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991 Release date: 03/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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