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In "The Big Bang and the Good House", Tony, a former drug dealer, pits his urge toward chaos against the orderly pleasures of marriage, finally yielding to the solidity and spaciousness of domestic love: "I feel myself gathering weight, density. Cautiously, I allow myself to inhabit this Good House, which surprisingly fits like my own body". Julia, the aging protagonist of "Simplifying", risks her fragile health in a love affair; her generosity of spirit toward her lover is matched in inverse proportion by the frugality with which her lover doles out his affections. In "The March of the Toys", a young woman flees Delaware, her chronically ill father, and her grieving mother, only to find that she's traded the neediness of her family for the harrowing disturbances of her lovers. She muses, "I couldn't affect anyone's life. I could only attend it".
In "Hualapai Dread", an investment broker's infatuation with an enigmatic Hualapai Indian woman, as elusive as she is beautiful, brings out his most predatory instincts and unmasks her own deceit. Acting on similar but more destructive impulses toward the object of his sexual obsession, a character in another story takes his soon-to-be ex-wife on a bizarre "honeymoon for divorce". The close-knit family of "Builders" breaks under the strain of constructing their dream house with their own hands, and eventually they are forced to leave behind the illusion of safety and permanence: "Once the three had imagined themselves as a house on a hill, dug into stone with the tenacity of a lion. Now they sat tensely in canvas-backed chairs stretched like slingshots. They talked cautiously, with encouragement, hoping for the return of pleasure".
Embodying the transience and openness of the New West, the characters in All My Relations reinvent themselves, even as they struggle with the age-old, perilous necessity of loving.
Allegiance and Betrayal” is comprised of a dozen short stories, all dealing with family in one way or another. The stories are set in New England and the South, including specific locations such as Connecticut and coastal North Carolina. Makuck writes about an offshore fishing trip to settle old scores, a scuba diving experience that rescues a friendship, a family reunion that turns ugly on the subject of religion, a widower trying to survive, and a house painter discovering a need to deal with chronic anger, amongst others. Makuck examines the conflicts of human nature, and the universality and significance of familial relationships. His stories uncover cultural and psychological distances between people, distances that remain present despite society’s technologically-fused attempts at closing these gaps.
Brian Sousa leaves sentiment and saudade behind in Almost Gone, a linked collection spanning four generations of a Portuguese immigrant family. In this hardscrabble world, the youth struggle with the secrets left behind by their elders, as their parents fought through the pain and joy of assimilation. Told through various perspectives, Almost Gone is a working-class tale of survival that finds no easy answers, but cuts straight to the bone.
New Queer Latino Writing
As the U.S. Latino population grows rapidly, and as the LGBTQ Latino community becomes more visible and a more crucial part of our literary and artistic heritage, there is an increasing demand for literature that successfully highlights these diverse lives. Edited by Lázaro Lima and Felice Picano, Ambientes is a revolutionary collection of fiction featuring stories by established authors as well as emerging voices that present a collective portrait of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience in America today. With a preface by Picano and an introduction by Lima that sets the stage for understanding Latino literary and cultural history, this is the first anthology to cross cultural and regional borders by offering a wide variety of urban, rural, East Coast, West Coast, and midwestern perspectives on Latina and Latino queers from different walks of life. Stories range from sensual pieces to comical romances and from inner-city dramas fueled by street language to portraits of gay domesticity, making this a much-needed collection for many different kinds of readers. The stories in this collection reflect a vibrant and creative community and redefine received notions of “gay” and “lesbian.”
An Annotated Edition
Terre Haute, Indiana, 1927
They lived "green" out of necessity -- walking to work, repairing everything from worn shoes to wristwatches, recycling milk bottles and packing containers. Music was largely heard live and most residential streets had shade trees. The nearby Wabash River -- a repeated subject of story and song -- transported Sunday picnickers to public parks. In the form of an old-fashioned city directory, An American Hometown celebrates a bygone American era, focusing on life in 1920s Terre Haute, Indiana. With artfully drawn biographical sketches and generously illustrated histories, noted musician, historian, and storyteller Tom Roznowski not only evokes a beauty worth remembering, but also brings to light just how many of our modern ideas of sustainable living are deeply rooted in the American tradition.