Luis Alberto Urrea, Author . Cinco Puntos $12.95 (146p) ISBN 978-0-938317-63-0

Urrea, best known for his hard-hitting nonfiction (Across the WireNobody's Son), proves once again to be an eloquent and elegiac spokesman for the down-and-out and the disaffected in this collection of six stories whose settings range from Mexico to the Sioux nation in South Dakota. His protagonists are usually Hispanics and Native Americans whose struggles are documented most touchingly in one of the two longer stories, "A Day in the Life," which describes the plight of a poverty-stricken group of garbage pickers whose lives are torn apart by tragedy after they are forced to move from Mexico City to Tijuana. Urrea turns his attention to the brokenhearted in "Taped to the Sky," in which a man who takes to the road after his wife leaves him breaks down in the middle of Wyoming, where he learns the reason for his journey from the Native American man who helps him. He offers a different perspective on the Native American experience in "Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses," which describes the sorrow of a man who marries a Sioux woman who succumbs to alcoholism, while "Father Returns From the Mountain" is a touching story of a man's attempt to come to terms with his father's death in an auto accident. Urrea is a poetic writer who draws strong characters and wears his literary compassion on his sleeve, and he uses all of his gifts to full advantage here. (Feb.)

Forecast:This is a minor outing for Urrea, whose fiction has made less of a splash than his nonfiction. A breakout may be in store for him soon, though—Little, Brown is publishing his next novel, which it secured as part of a two-book, six-figure deal.

Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
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