cover image The Consequences: Stories

The Consequences: Stories

Manuel Muñoz. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-64445-206-6

Obligations fall heavily upon the characters in Muñoz’s deeply affecting collection (after What You See in the Dark). Set in and around Fresno, Calif., in the 1980s, the stories center on farmworkers drawn to—and frequently expelled from—the Central Valley and their Mexican American children. In “Anyone Can Do It,” a young mother whose husband was swept up in an immigration raid begins working in the fields, where she faces a shocking betrayal. In “The Reason Is Because,” a teenage mother spends her days caring for her baby and longing for the boredom of high school, back when “her daydreaming didn’t seem so pointless.” In “What Kind of Fool Am I,” a young woman realizes the contours of her life are largely set and will revolve around taking care of her younger brother, who pursues his own escape from familial burdens with dangerous, older men. The future is similarly straitened in “Compromisos,” in which a husband and father tries to return to his household after his lover shuts down any dreams of a future together. By making subtle connections between the stories, Muñoz adds texture to characters even if they’re not at the center, and throughout, Muñoz delivers breathtaking views into his characters’ hardscrabble world, and evokes the heat of their yearning. This packs a hell of a punch. Agent: Stuart Bernstein, Stuart Bernstein Representation for Artists. (Oct.)