Igloo Among Palms

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“Like Flannery O'Connor, Rod Val Moore is a realist whose characters often find themselves acting in improbable ways in outlandish circumstances. In [this] first collection of stories, he shares her knack for portraying spiritual aspiration, as well as human absurdity, with such poker-faced seriousness that the reader never blinks…Unpredictable, vital, deceptive in its potentialities, Mr. Moore's Cal-Mex of the mind forms a symbol-ridden landscape to which the explanatory key has been lost, though the place still radiates an ambiguous spiritual gleam.”—New York Times Book Review

“…highly original and engaging…a true gift for the comic and the bizarre.”—Ploughshares

“Hilarious. Chilling. Breezy. Weird. Unforgettable. A rare find in North American fiction—stories truly on the border, sacking both Latino/a and Gringa/o culture for their magic, lunacy, charm, and medicine good and bad.”—Will Baker

“Oh, these are wonderful stories. Every one boundlessly inventive, unexpected, engrossing, edgy, and kind—their unsettled characters wandering, in all earnestness, full-tilt through the unhealthy environment of now.”—Joy Williams

The stories in this prize-winning volume are set in fictional towns, along highways, and in industries on either edge of the Mexico-California border. The author uses memory and imagination to transform these scenes into a defamiliarized frontera, a region of subtle misplacements and cultural contretemps. In these engaging and extremely human stories, gringos move south and Mexicans move north in a search for growth and difference but find that the border is much more fluid, much harder to definitively cross, than they imagined.

For instance, in “Grimshaw's Mexico,” Officer Grimshaw chauffeurs his family south of the border to buy medicine and is taken aback when his little boy appears to learn Spanish in an afternoon. Years later, back in Mexico, his son grown and gone away to live his life, a con artist gives Grimshaw his last chance to so “something foreign and unforgivable.” “Igloo among Palms,” the title story, tells of a dry-ice deliveryman on a lonely road and the somewhat ghostly hitchhiker he picks up and then loses track of late one summer night. The hitchhiker resurfaces, along with a fast-food waitress, in a date palm garden, and there they must find a way to sort out their respective lives.

These stories are deeply entertaining, full of surprises and unexpected turns that ultimately lead the reader to the narrative's fascinating resolution.