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Reviews of The Consequences by Manuel Munoz

The Consequences

Stories

by Manuel Munoz

The Consequences by Manuel Munoz X
The Consequences by Manuel Munoz
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  • Paperback:
    Oct 2022, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Book Summary

Shimmering stories set in California's Central Valley, the first book in a decade from a virtuoso story writer.

"Her immediate concern was money." So begins the first story in Manuel Muñoz's dazzling new collection. In it, Delfina has moved from Texas to California's Central Valley with her husband and small son, and her isolation and desperation force her to take a risk that ends in profound betrayal.

These exquisite stories are mostly set in the 1980s in the small towns that surround Fresno. With an unflinching hand, Muñoz depicts the Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers who put food on our tables but are regularly and ruthlessly rounded up by the migra, as well as the quotidian struggles and immense challenges faced by their families. The messy and sometimes violent realities navigated by his characters―straight and gay, immigrant and American-born, young and old―are tempered by moments of surprising, tender care: Two young women meet on a bus to Los Angeles to retrieve husbands who must find their way back from the border after being deported; a gay couple plans a housewarming party that reveals buried class tensions; a teenage mother slips out to a carnival where she encounters the father of her child; the foreman of a crew of fruit pickers finds a dead body and is subsequently―perhaps literally―haunted.

In The Consequences, obligation can shape, support, and sometimes derail us. It's a magnificent new book from a gifted writer at the height of his powers.

A complete short story from The Consequences is available at VQR







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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Some stories and individual features of stories are more engaging than others. Characters can be so stripped down as to seem formless, which can have a dulling effect. However, the spareness feels stylistically deliberate, as it appears to represent how a character's circumstances have rendered him a husk of himself. Race, culture, class, sexuality and citizenship are organically coded into the stories' atmospheres in a way that lets the reader feel the significance of these factors in how characters move through the world. The Consequences is well-crafted, thematically sound and subtly surprising...continued

Full Review (676 words)

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(Reviewed by Elisabeth Cook).

Media Reviews

Oprah Daily
Gay, straight, American-born or American-dreaming, the characters in this collection exist on the verge of oblivion, but the book out--Steinbecks Steinbeck in its manifestation of the human in places we too rarely dare look.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[L]uminous...Nuanced, thoughtful, often moving stories.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[D]eeply affecting...By making subtle connections between the stories, Muñoz adds texture to characters even if they're not at the center, and throughout, Muñoz delivers breathtaking views into his characters' hardscrabble world, and evokes the heat of their yearning. This packs a hell of a punch.

Author Blurb Colin Barrett
Manuel Muñoz's stories are melancholy, assured, and unforgettable. Like a porch light at midnight, they strike a circle of stark dreamlike clarity around their characters, even as the darkness gathers in.

Author Blurb Sandra Cisneros
Haunting, powerful, humble, precise, this collection shook my being. Manuel Muñoz is a great American writer who sees with his heart―as great as Juan Rulfo in writing about the poor. I wish I had written these stories.

Author Blurb Susan Straight
These stories are evanescent, unforgettable, taking us deep into California's Central Valley, the homeland Manuel Muñoz has for years given to the world as a place of glimmering mystery, tule fog, and the yearning of his characters for love and absolution. Each story reveals an entire life. Muñoz is one of the best writers working in America.

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Beyond the Book

Susto

In Manuel Muñoz's The Consequences, the story "Susto" describes a man's disturbed psychological state after he discovers a dead body in a field. The Spanish word "susto" can be translated into English as "fright," but it also refers to an illness associated with certain Hispanic and Indigenous populations in Latin America and the Southwestern United States. It is sometimes referred to as "fright sickness" or "soul loss." While there are regional variations in how exactly susto is defined, it is generally a condition believed to be brought on by a traumatic event, such as an accident, a near-death experience or the loss of a loved one, and is also sometimes thought to have supernatural causes. Possible symptoms include trouble sleeping,...

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Read-Alikes

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