The King of Taos

Max Evans. Univ. of New Mexico, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8263-6164-6
Evans (The Rounders) draws on his years in 1950s Taos, N.Mex., for this wistful picaresque (after For the Love of a Horse), an entertaining outing that engenders empathy for its flawed characters. Zacharias Chacon, supported by his hard-working and long-suffering wife, lives in perpetual hope that his fortunes will change. Every day, he expects a check promised by the government to compensate him for the noncombat injury he suffered during WWII, in an amount that will give him and his family some financial stability . Zacharias maintains his optimism and equanimity (with the frequent aid of alcohol) despite years of disappointment. Shaw Spencer, an aspiring portrait painter, is a newcomer to the small community who has no problem pocketing someone else’s loose change left on a tabletop, and who finds companionship and inspiration with a prostitute. After he meets Zacharias at a bar, the two men latch onto a plan to start a construction business with Zacharias’s elusive check, and experience various ups and downs—Shaw is ripped off by a Santa Fe gallery owner, and Zacharias eventually gets a new lease on life. While the rambling story line features minimal action and lots of talk, the characters are consistently charming. It’s a treat to watch Evans pull this off. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/29/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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