By: Oscar Casares
(Paperback / 176 Pages / Back Bay Books; 1st Edition / ISBN: 0316146803 / $13.95)
Description:Probing underneath the surface of Tex-Mex culture, Casares's stories, with their wisecracking, temperamental, obsessive middle-aged men and their dramas straight from neighborhood gossip are in the direct line of descent from Mark Twain and Ring Lardner.
Verdict: A dear friend of mine is a native of Brownsville, so you can imagine how eager I was to read this collection of short stories about people living in a unique part of Texas and then send it on to him accordingly. I assumed the stories would be heavy on Mexican-American culture and, perhaps, personal accounts of the struggle for equality, political activities, etc. etc. Mr. Casares,(accent of the first syllable, y'all!) however, has written charming, moving, and insightful stories that transcend ethnicity and speak to everyone. His characters' cultural milieu add a little 'spice' to the stories, but do not dominate the sometimes sad, sometimes quirky people in his accounts of everyday life on the border. The people in these stories are vibrantly real and we are drawn into their hearts and see into their souls largely due to this young man's skill and empathy. Oddly enough, though the Publishers' Weekly reviewer thought that 'Chango' was the funniest story in the collection, I found it sad and felt the man in the story was one of the most lonely people I have ever come across in anyone's writings. This is a wonderful collection and, upon reading it, the reader can only be sorry that there are not more of these marvelous stories to read! And as for my dear friend, well, as of going to press, he still hadn't gotten back to me with his own personal, unique verdict! But what do they say ... no news is good news!
Reviewed By Marcus Bright