cover image Igloo Among Palms

Igloo Among Palms

Rod Val Moore, Author University of Iowa Press $22 (146p) ISBN 978-0-87745-475-5

The 1994 Iowa Short Fiction Award-winner, Moore's first collection makes a fine debut with its seven stories of the shifting California-Mexico borderlands. The characters are ordinary, slightly vague people who have lost their bearings in the indeterminate landscape of agribusiness farms, pre-fab factories and desert highways: a middle-aged policeman revisiting a disappointingly unexotic Baja in ``Grimshaw's Mexico''; a young Mexican teacher fleeing to California from her widowed mother's remarriage in ``Planet of the Evangelists''; or callow 20-somethings trying to get along as roommates or traveling companions in ``Miss Mustachioed Bat'' and ``An Aztec Sphinx.'' The tales are small-scale tragedies of misunderstandings and vague longings in the Raymond Carver school. In the title story, a midnight dry-ice delivery run strings together the conversational fumbles of the young delivery driver, a hitchhiker and an all-night waitress, which end in a foolish accident. Despite Moore's attention to atmosphere, his hazy Mexican local color is ill-suited to his ironic distance and his all-American short-story approach. His stories are well-crafted but their slightly closed structures and themes have some of the rough edges and visible artifice of workshop work. (Nov.)