cover image Ganado Red: A Novella and Stories

Ganado Red: A Novella and Stories

Susan Lowell. Milkweed Editions, $9.95 (149pp) ISBN 978-0-915943-26-5

The winner of the first Milkweed National Fiction Prize competition, judged by Lopate, this exceptional collection conveys an atmosphere of subdued tension and danger, stemming from the characters' often tenuous ability to make sense of the world, and from their search for connectedness in the midst of terrible solitude. Lowell, an Arizona native, sets most of her stories in the American Southwest, and, indeed, the land is a vigorous presence throughout. In ``Los Mojados'' (illegal aliens), a crippled old man combats pain by imagining that he is riding horseback across his land: ``As he rode through the nights he could feel in his bones the places where the barbed mesquites made you duck. It was a harsh, hard-baked country; Joe loved it with a passionate awe that he had never felt for a human being.'' The title novella follows an Indian rug from its weaver, an elderly Navajo woman, through the lives of its owners. As finely wrought as the rug, this piece alternately treats its characters with sarcasm and compassionate warmth and humor. Lowell's empathy for the human condition is deftly limned in singular portraits of Americana: Indians, illegal aliens and ranchers; children and the aged; the innocent and the corrupt. This shimmering debut heralds a distinctive regional voice with universal appeal. (June)