cover image Brides and Sinners in El Chuco

Brides and Sinners in El Chuco

Christine Granados. University of Arizona Press, $14.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-0-8165-2492-1

El Paso is El Chuco to locals of the border town where Granados sets the 14 stories of this debut. A young woman models her wedding on those she saw in magazines full of gringas, but her reality (as is the case with many of the characters to follow) differs starkly from her glossy fantasy. In ""A Scenic Night,"" a young woman is saved from humiliation by a deceptively chivalric bartender, who promptly takes her outside for an even greater embarrassment. The young girl in ""Man of the House,"" forced to adopt the role of caretaker for her irresponsible mother, is on the verge of caring about her mother's new boyfriend, but must accept that he will leave like all the rest. The small disappointments of the book are tempered by the characters' abilities to rally hope from unlikely sources, such as the young protagonist in ""Enough,"" who finds solace in a close relationship with her alcoholic, possibly ""loca,"" Aunt Manuela. The author's affection for her characters emerges in her way of bringing them to life with an attention to detail and language that clearly evokes the intensities of half-filled desires.