cover image The Boy Without a Flag: Tales of the South Bronx

The Boy Without a Flag: Tales of the South Bronx

Abraham Rodriguez, JR.. Milkweed Editions, $12.95 (115pp) ISBN 978-0-915943-74-6

Rodriguez chronicles the lives of Hispanic residents of the South Bronx in this harshly realistic and powerful debut collection. A 12-year-old girl crosses over into precocious womanhood while playing ``war games'' with the boys amid the broken brick of abandoned buildings. A 13-year-old boy celebrates his birthday with a ``brand new police record'' after committing his first burglary. A teenaged drug addict with dreams of having a baby gets an abortion instead after a series of events result in a negative epiphany. The first two stories are weakened by rhetoric about ``oppression,'' but Rodriguez's sympathetic descriptions of his characters illuminate their fleeting joys. The author has a flair for street slang and the telling detail (``For free! Whea else but in America?'' sasses the drug addict about a roach-ridden bureau she salvages from the street) and for portraying several different points of view; these enhance the narrative tension throughout and impress his vision on our memories. Author tour. (June)