With intensity and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade's unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths. The deadbeat father of a pregnant teenager tries to transform his life by playing the role of Jesus in a bloody penitential Passion.Read more...
With intensity and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade's unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths. The deadbeat father of a pregnant teenager tries to transform his life by playing the role of Jesus in a bloody penitential Passion. A young man discovers that his estranged father and a boa constrictor have been squatting in his grandmother's empty house. A lonely retiree new to Santa Fe becomes obsessed with her housekeeper. One girl attempts to uncover the mystery of her cousin's violent past, while another young woman finds herself at an impasse when she is asked to hear her priest's confession.
Always hopeful, these stories chart the passions and obligations of family life, exploring themes of race, class, and coming-of-age, as Quade's characters protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-05
- Reviewer: Staff
All the characters in Quade’s auspicious debut collection of 10 stories live in New Mexico, but it’s a tribute to her artistry that each story feels vivid and new. Quade’s ability to depict an entire world within the limitations of a single story, and to produce a collection with both unity and breadth, is reminiscent of Alice Munro. In the title story, a restless girl named Frances, on the brink of adolescence, looks beyond her small world—her father is a bus driver taking revelers to an annual celebration, and her older cousin Nancy wants only to drink and flirt. The opening story, “Nemecia,” also involves an older female cousin, the title character, whom the narrator views with a complex mix of awe, jealousy, and fear. “The Guesthouse” brings a contentious family together on the occasion of a grandmother’s funeral. In “Ordinary Sins,” pregnant Crystal has tumultuous and layered relationships with a pair of priests. The final story, “The Manzanos,” which focuses on grief through the eyes and mind of a young girl, is an emotional tour de force. Agent: Denise Shannon, Denise Shannon Literary Agency. (Mar.)