Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Bolero of Andi Rowe: Stories -- Toni Margarita Plummer

I was hesitant to review this collection of stories because it was written by my editor at St. Martin's. Either I'm a brave man, I'm crazy, or I'm a suck-up. I report you decide.

I learned about these stories a couple of years ago from the late Ruth Cavin, who was quite proud of the fact that Toni, then her assistant, was a prize-winning author in her own right.

Several of the stories, including the one that gives the book its title, involve Andi Rowe and her family, and they're coming-of-age stories for the most part, though not all of them are from Andi's point of view. Hearing from other members of the family or from other people whose lives intersect with theirs does a lot for the reader's perspective.

My favorite story doesn't involve the Rowes, however. It's "The Desert in Green," a subtle and touching story about a boy determined to keep crossing the border no matter how many times he's caught. Like all the stories in the book, this one generates emotion from clear, concise, specific language, quite an achievement.

If you haven't read any literary short stories for a while, this collection would be a great place to start.

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