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354 WesternAmerican Literature Students, Montez and his friends rode “the wave ofChicano pride . . .that swept the Southwest”in the Sixties until the death of their leader, Rocky Ruiz, doused their revolutionary spirit. Now, Montez is drawn back to that past life, back to the mystery surrounding Ruiz’s murder. TheBallad ofRockyRuiz has all the right elements: an engaging, complicated plot; a mysterious, beautiful, perhaps deadly young woman; a grumpy, savvy cop; corrupt money men and land developers; and even unprincipled, pomp­ ous lawyers. Although insightful and driven, Luis Montez is no macho gumshoe type, and following his steps and missteps makes for enjoyable reading. Manuel Ramos isworking on his second Luis Montez novel. Given his likely cast of recurring characters—Detective Philip Coangelo; Montez’s sarcastic father, Jesus Genaro Montez; andJanice Kendall, “another ex-legal-aid lawyer” who plays an interesting but minor role in this book—that next installment should also be a delight. ROBERT HEADLEY Southern State Community College, Ohio BrightAngels and Familiars: Contemporary Mormon Stories. Edited by Eugene Eng­ land. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992. 275 pages, $19.95.) This volume of contemporary Mormon short stories is dedicated to the memories of Maurine Whipple and Virginia Sorensen, whose novels (The Giant Joshua Tree, 1941 and A Little Lower Than the Angels, 1942), both published outside Utah, gained some ofthe first national recognition for Mormon writing. They are represented in this anthology by short pieces which, interestingly, clearly show the distance Mormon writing has traveled in the half century separating the “lost”generation from succeeding ones. The other twenty stories are by current writers who are all associated with Mormon letters in a formal way by participation in competitions, by publication in Mormonjournals that are independent ofthe Church yet identified with it— and no doubt scrutinized by it—or by publication through regional presses. Their shared Mormon background leads them, Eugene England feels, “to express, reveal, develop, and challenge the shape of Mormon beliefs,” and by doing so to develop a distinctive and unique literature. The stories vary in theme, topic, and treatment, giving a pleasant variety to the collection; and to the credit of all, authors and editor, the collection lacks a restricting sense of conformity, one of the chief markers of the culture. True, none ofthe stories rides on the cutting edge ofcontemporary fiction. In fact, the edges in these stories do not cut at all. The stories tend to be restrained and polite, following established conventions. But this caution is understandable, for the Mormon writer is obliged to balance a load of expecta­ tions and responsibilities handed from the culture with that piled on by per­ sonal inclinations and sensibilities. Reviews 355 Though moved by moral and religious conflicts, the stories are resound­ ingly secular, standing apart from much other contemporary fiction through their positive attitudes; in nearly all of them one finds good and decent human beings who are not only familiar but likable. Even the most benign reading leads to the conclusion that the sentimental element, as natural to Mormon culture as apple pie and Mom are to America at large, is still a presence. It may require yet another generation of writers to be quenched. There are already notable exceptions. Linda Sillitoe,Judith Freeman, and SibylJohnston move in promising new directions without losing their emotional connections. And few writers have been as successful as Levi Peterson in avoiding the pitfall of too much feeling. He holds the mirror up to Mormon life—rural, suburban, per­ sonal and institutional—but looks at it with a rare and wonderful humor leavened by insight, understanding and affection. Overall, the tone of this collection might be termed tentative and question­ ing, certainly low key rather than dogmatic or critical. It is important that many of these writers have demonstrated that it is possible to be the kind of writer appropriate for this anthology and at the same time to interest other kinds of readers as well. The literature seems poised now to go beyond the merely parochial. CORALIE BEYERS Logan, Utah A Place in Mind. By Dulce D. Moore. (Dallas: Baskerville Publishers, 1992. 265 pages, $18.00.) This is the first novel and, as far...


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pp. 354-355
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