THE GHOST OF JOHN WAYNE AND OTHER STORIES
, . . Univ. of Arizona, $29.95 (150pp) ISBN 978-0-8165-2066-4
Novelists can sometimes waste words and still make a lot of money; writers of short fiction mete out their words carefully and usually make only friends. This is Gonzalez's first collection of short fiction, and he does not squander a syllable. All 25 of these brief (some as brief as two pages) sketches are set in the modern-day American Southwest where religion, poverty, superstition and Hispanic culture hold sway. In the title story—the best in the collection—a curious San Antonio writer and a wary psychic visit the Alamo and discover the tortured spirits of dead soldiers waving a white flag. In "The Apparition," Carlos sees a vision of the Virgin of Guadalupe on his plastic shower curtain, and his life will never be the same. "Canyon de Kayenta" finds two archeology students, lovers once and enemies now, competing bitterly for recognition at a mysterious and ancient cliff dwelling site. "Invisible Country" is a gripping mystery of murder and drug smuggling along the Rio Grande, where the cops are not always friendly or helpful. Other stories tell of fathers and sons, a boy's first love, racial discrimination, a UFO, a man who eats a scorpion and a very peculiar incident in a Chinese restaurant. Some readers may be frustrated by the more obscure tales; others will tire of the prevalence of so-called magic realism, but despite the occasional misstep, Gonzales shows real talent as a storyteller.
Reviewed on: 09/24/2001
Hardcover - 168 pages - 978-0-8165-2065-7