cover image Pig Cookies

Pig Cookies

Alberto Rios, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $10.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0745-6

The treats of the title are the gingerbread delights that Mexican adults imagine are beloved by their children because the kids laugh at the sight of the chubby cookies lined up on a baker's tray. Such misconceptions are at the heart of this second book of short stories by Rios (The Iguana Killer), a native Arizonan who teaches at Arizona State University. Set in a northern Mexican village over several decades of the 20th century, Pig Cookies traces the lives of its citizens throughout these volatile times. At the center of the stories is Lazaro Luna, a baker overcome by love, who one day mixes a ``batter of surprise'' from which comes a unique batch of pig cookies, treats to which children ``gave... all the names they had previously held in trust for various dolls they had hoped to receive.'' Next door to the bakery, the lonely butcher, Noe, covers his walls with clocks that ``have hands only for him.'' The entire town feels responsible for the remarkable gardens of Lamberto Diaz, gardens created by various bits of this and that--including more pig cookies--tossed in by neighbors. These poignant, funny tales of the rich, unsuspected inner lives of regular folk transcend time and place. They could be set anywhere with equally delightful results. (May)