RaveThe Houston ChronicleThe compression of the book — the tale is told twice in 128 pages — in no way deprives readers of a full experience ... It is difficult to think of a more fitting story for today than one that harks back to when women sought to make lives for themselves and had to survive all manner of obstacles. These were women who clung to each other and can perceive years later — even as their dreams have been deferred — that their full faith in the women who helped them along through the most uncertain of times was a kind of success, too.
Ellen Birkett Morris
RaveTexas Public RadioBlink and you won’t be able to figure out how she does it. But then, don’t blink. Stare as hard as you can. Retrace favorite paragraphs and lines and still be mystified about her pointillistic ability to create the images and lines that take the breath out of your body and create the unforgettable lost girls ... Even when they can begin to discern the magician’s obvious and ordinary tricks, they still seek to find a form of extraordinary magic to trust in and live through.
PositiveTexas Public RadioThe essays tell Harlan’s personal stories, but they are also well-researched. She examines the cultural histories of places, from Bedouin nomadic traditions to modern life in mobile homes ... The prose in Harlan’s essays is remarkably unsentimental as she guides us through the natural and built landscapes of her formative years. The family history, for all of its chapters about roaming, still speaks to a kind of stability and maintains a definite poignancy.
PositiveThe Houston Chronicle... it is the human face that Arana depicts through the stories of Gonzales, Buergos and Albó that helps us understand the long past, its many dates and place names and players. The sweep is enormous and complex, but Arana’s storytelling and her obvious compassion guide us through the past millennium as an absorbing, even poignant, kaleidoscopic journey to places it behooves us all to comprehend.
PositiveThe Houston ChronicleTheroux shows again and again through the personal stories of the people he meets that what they really want is to do honest work, make a little money and go back home ... Theroux started his trip in 2017 and drove more than 2,000 miles across the border between San Ysidro, Calif., and Brownsville. He looped back and forth, not so much proving the supposed porousness of the border, but the ways in which borders can be transcended through simple curiosity and compassion.
Fernando A. Flores
PositiveThe Houston ChronicleIt’s not that easy to summarize Fernando A. Flores’ novel Tears of the Trufflepig until it is. At first gloss, the story seems surreal and futuristic — until it doesn’t. Given that Flores began writing this novel in 2014, many of the details seem not political but prophetic. He understands the border in the way that many who come from there do — those who have left and developed a perspective about it from new vantage points ... This is an intelligent book. Literary, musical and historical references fill each chapter. It is a smorgasbord of cultural allusions that make up a kind of playground for readers who don’t offhandedly eschew what readers of world literature welcome, including the surreal elements.There’s another point worth making. Anyone who thinks that writers from South Texas have a limited worldview are just plain wrong.
Roger D. Hodge
RaveThe San Antonio Express-NewsThe title, Texas Blood, refers to family, bloodline, Hodge’s ancestors, but also, as the subtitle suggests, the wide-ranging topics covered in this fascinating Texas story ... Hodge does, in fact, return to the state by way of this work of nonfiction. He revisits his roots and tells the wild stories of things he experienced working on a ranch. He contextualizes the experiences by way of the stories of his ancestors in Texas, and also in Oklahoma and Arizona, but the main setting of the book is Texas — big, complex, idiosyncratic Texas ...an example of narrative journalism ... Hodge’s Texas is ominous and bleak. The stories are fascinating and the characters that people an otherwise flat, dusty dimension come alive due to Hodge’s masterful prose ... And it isn’t a quick read, not because it’s long, but because the prose demands a close, deliberate, unhurried pace to absorb quite so many carefully offered details and a extensive cavalcade of memorable characters and events.