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wül bring back all who died in the Civil War, and all who died before it, and eliminate death for the future. The veil between death and life wiU bepierced. And Gob has certainlyprepared for this undertaking by his long tutelage under the Urfeist, a fantastical , ogre-like creature who with an iron hand instructed his young pupil in the fundamentals of machines as weU as the necromancer's arts. From its earliest form, that of a sheep, his machine soon evolves to look like a person, then "a fashionable angel." (Note the progression here, up the scale of the Great Chain of Being.) In its final form, it is "an édifice," a gargantuan "engine" that takes up aU five floors of the mansion Gob inherited from the Urfeist. To do its job, the engine must incorporate "the crucial element ofdesire," musthave a "battery"—namely, WaltWhitman himself . One cannot help but see the Faustian questworking here, in the human presumption, the interference with the natural order, the overreaching. In its final performance, first with Whitman in the "gatehouse," screaming in unfathomable pain, then Gob taking his place, the engine ultimately explodes. Gob dies; Tomo mysteriously appears, exiting the fiery building. Some years later, Tomo is a man with a faulty memory but one who can, at one point, realize that it was not Gob who died at Chickamauga—it was he. He wants to believe in the theory of "undying." He seems, to the reader, to be a death-in-life figure. Gob's Griefis certainly a provocative first novel. Its power comes not only from its theme, which is meticulously developed, but also from its structure, which provides different narrative perspectives on the development of Gob's grief machine. This machine is a technological wonder, akin to the immense engineering achievement of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is clearly one response to the horror of the Civil War, however presumptuous and mad. But whatever meaning we ultimately attach to Gob's machine, it is the power of Chris Adrian's storytelling that causes us to enter into the spell of this machine and to wonder at the motives that drive its builders as well as its believers (and skeptics), both the living and the dead. (JS) Secrets ofthe Tsil Café by Thomas Fox Averill BlueHen Books, 2001, 320 pp., $23.95 There's something about the food of the Western Hemisphere. Laura Esquivel knows it. Witness the success ofLike Waterfor Chocolate. Thomas Fox Averill knows it, too. His novel, Secrets of the Tsil Café, captures the recipes (literally), the history and the expressive power of the food of the Americas. In the title AveriU evokes the is/7, a Hopi mythical figure who chaUenged all comers to a race and stuffed hot peppers into the mouths of those who were overtaken. Averill'snarrator,WesHingler,knows aU too well about the power of food. Secrets is his story, the story of a boy growing up between two kitchens. Upstairs, where his crib sits in a corner of his mother's kitchen, he grows up with the foods of the Old World— creams, cheeses, olive oil, garlic. His mother's Kansas City catering business , Buen AppeTito, specializes in the The Missouri Review · 197 Italian cuisine that she learned to cook at the right hand of her grandmother . But downstairs is the Tsil Café, Wes's father's kitchen, where Wes cuts his teeth (and burns his hands). From the time Wes is four years old, he helps his father in the downstairs kitchen, limited strictly to the foods of the New World—anchovies , buffalo, habanero, jalapeño. Wes' childhood is in many ways typical. He gets beaten up on the playground , is dumped at age fourteen by a girl he likes, feels different from everyone else in high school. But Wes really is different. How do you explain toother eight-year-oldswhy youbring tamales for lunch? What do you do whenyourfatherservesbuffalo tongue to your first date, a girl raised on peanut butter and jelly? If you are Wes Hingler, you survive. You leam to cook. And you take a little bit of everything from all the people who've taught you...


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