cover image The Truth

The Truth

Geoff Rips, . . New Issues, $26 (196pp) ISBN 978-1-930974-73-9

Ten reflective, connected vignettes set in a San Antonio, Tex., whorehouse comprise the haunting debut by former Texas Observer editor Rips, winner of an Association of Writers and Writing programs AWP Award. The 60-something narrator, Chuy Testimonio de Felíz Pingarrón, is the son of one of the bordello's working girls (now dead). He still lives in the house, and he's plagued by a congenital spinal condition that has left him twisted and in pain. Most days, he sits on the front porch observing the comings and goings of the customers and musing on the various prostitutes. He dwells especially on his favorite, Angelita, “famous for her hands.” The misery he witnesses in the women's lives reflects his own blunted condition. Often Chuy visits with Don Apolo, deformed and immobilized in an iron lung, who was abandoned at the house more than 30 years ago and has lived in a back room since, whose words are sage and saintly. Rosa Milagros, known as the Midwife, runs the whorehouse and commands Chuy's respect because she “takes back a little of the control that the world tries to keep all to itself.” Chuy resists salvation and embraces his sad, sordid life. Unsparing and a little raunchy, the novel bears out the Midwife's aphorism: “Everything that happens in the world sooner or later drags itself into this house.” (Jan.)