cover image Letters from the Horse Latitudes

Letters from the Horse Latitudes

C. W. Smith. Texas Christian University Press, $19.95 (204pp) ISBN 978-0-87565-131-6

This atmospheric collection of 11 short stories roams the American Southwest and Mexico, providing an amiable mix of coming-of-age yarns and tales of cultural friction. In ``Child Guidance,'' a tourist in Mexico watches a young boy stumble uneasily toward maturity. In ``The Plantation Club,'' a jazz tale finds its way into an unusual place: a down-and-out club on the Texas-Mexican border. In the title story, perhaps the best tale here, a young man who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam seeks to understand his experiences of playing at war as a child and then of training at a Marine Corps base in San Diego while at the same time struggling to communicate with his father. Some of the stories end too quickly, as if Smith (Thin Men of Haddam) were pressing for a conclusion, but his elegant language, along with his knack for choice detail, ably carries most of the tales here. (Oct.)