cover image  The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories

The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories

Rudolfo A. Anaya, . . Univ. of Oklahoma, $19.95 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-8061-3738-4

This collection of 18 short stories spanning the past 30 years showcases Anaya's literary voice, at once innocent and omniscient, and rooted in the windswept llanos (plains) of New Mexico. Anaya, the award-winning Chicano author (Bless Me, Ultima ), masterfully infuses his cuentos , or folktales, with mysticism and spirituality. The title story, for example, encapsulates a rancher's hard-learned lesson about magic. Anaya fluently weaves sensuality with small-town Catholicism in "Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams," about a teenage bride consumed by sexual fantasies. When the face of Christ supposedly appears on the church wall at sunset, she and her shy new husband connect over their inability to see the miracle. In "The Silence of the Llano," the collection's most moving story, the marital bliss of the ranchero Rafael is destroyed when his wife dies in childbirth, and he and his new daughter live separate, isolated lives under the same roof for 16 years, until another tragedy reunites them. "In Search of Epifano" features death as a benign figure, representing not only inevitability but also the resolution of a deep-seated desire unquenchable by anything on earth. Anaya's characters' longing shimmers off elegiac, deceptively simple prose, captivating in its aspiration and achievement. (Mar.)