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February 28, 2013 Edition
Illustrated by Ester Hernandez
This tiny picture book for adults explores the ways in which grief lays us low, but also can bring us out to discover the strength of the communities we belong to. When Roz comes to visit Sandra after Sandra’s mother passes away, she brings her cat, Marie. Marie, in the way of so many cats, disappears the day she arrives, and Roz is desperate to find her again. The two women make flyers and Sandra reluctantly leaves her home to help Roz canvas the neighborhood, along the way meeting with others who grieve their own losses. With colorful drawings, Hernandez brings the community alive, while Cisneros writes her heroine’s way through the discovery that there is a way to emerge from sadness into memory. And yes, there is a happy ending.
Have you ever wondered what you would do and who you would be if you could start all over? Emma, a young lawyer, takes a month-long African vacation during which a series of misadventures cause her vacation to stretch to six months without a working phone or access to the internet, gets that chance. When she finally returns home, Emma finds that she’s been given up for dead by her friends and family (except for her very best friend, who has flown to Africa to search for her). Emma has been mourned and the world has moved on. Her landlord has disposed of her belongings and rented out her apartment, and her boyfriend seems uncomfortable with her sudden reappearance. Her law firm will take her back – with conditions. And suddenly she finds herself questioning the very life she had fashioned for herself. Light and witty on the surface, there’s a strong undercurrent of real issues to think about.
From his supposed deathbed, twenty-eight year old Oppen Porter begins narrating his life’s story for his unborn son. Porter is a self-proclaimed “slow absorber” and also very naïve, and so his stories are tinged with pathos and a hint of the ridiculous. He believes the best about those around him, and after his father’s death, goes to live with his aunt in Panorama City. Needless to say, she has plans for her somewhat out-of-the-ordinary nephew. The problem is that Porter isn’t really cut out for the ordinary: the job Aunt Liz lines up for him at the fast food restaurant doesn’t really keep his interest and he finds himself helping a “fellow thinker” friend sell anti-aging crème in the mall. Porter’s mostly charming adventures are mixture of Forrest Gump and Don Quixote: readers who enjoy seeing another’s life lived through their own eyes will find much to enjoy.
Nick and Desmond, repo men who have “liberated” some money they now need to launder, find themselves tangled up in the schemes of a guy named Beluga (Desmond’s ex-wife’s deadbeat brother) who wants them to finance a tire theft. For some reason, the original tire thief wants his tires back so badly that Beluga (and Nick and Desmond by extension) find themselves the targets of a ninja assassin and a couple of good ol’ boy Delta gangsters. They need all their hard-won skills to keep themselves and Beluga alive while trying to settle matters in their favor. Nick, the narrator, has a way with words and this book is full of grit, violence, and humor as black as Mississippi mud. If you haven’t read Gavin’s first book, Ranchero, also set in the Mississippi Delta, you’ll be going back for it when you’re through with Beluga.