... the well-crafted stories in Manuel Muñoz’s The Consequences are highly attuned to the many manifestations of suffering, and to the redemptive power of relating that suffering to another person, trying to honor what has been lost ... This collection pushes the reader to appreciate life’s small moments of unexpected tenderness with fresh eyes.
From deportation fears and the complications of teenage motherhood to the search for belonging and the healing power of kindness, The Consequences covers the full breadth of human experience and gives voice to a segment of the population too often stereotyped, taken advantage of or made invisible by our larger society. Simply put, Muñoz’s stories are as observant as they are revealing — full of nuanced subtext and bracingly honest depictions of vulnerability and hope, love and regret, and everything in between. They deserve all the attention they can get.
Each story in Muñoz’s collection represents a stillness on the surface with currents of doubt and fear running below ... Muñoz captures the agricultural richness of the Central Valley with poetic prose ... How much should we say when people ask us who we are? Each of Muñoz’s characters struggles with this question. Their most personal vulnerabilities are often not lived out loud because too much is at stake. Muñoz, meanwhile, is a master of balancing interiority with outward toughness. By focusing on a series of individual lives, he reveals how each acts within a system that is entirely created to wear them out and use them up.
... the stories evoke the uneasy 'inbetweenness' of lives that cross borders, as well as the power of small kindnesses amid daily struggles and doubts ... Throughout the collection, Muñoz’s writing quietly dazzles with its unforced, patient, and lyrical lines. His choice to weave several characters into multiple stories proves effective; the tactic builds a backstory and empathy ... These choices aren’t easy to confront; in some cases, they’re reprehensible – selfish, crass, debauched. But in the stories he tells, each individual receives the gift of consideration: These are lives as deserving of attention and grace as any other.
in the work of Manuel Muñoz, the Central Valley is a recurring character of enigmatic presence ... Lucid and elegantly written, The Consequences tells the stories of characters who ache for one another or for ephemeral moments of release; who ache — bodily — from a life spent harvesting the sweetness that will grace other tables ... A valley is negative space. Muñoz gives it palpable texture.
The American Dream is a fraught endeavour which leaves many of these characters empty and broken. In the small towns that dot the sprawling highway cutting through the Central Valley, life is bleak, cruel and crushing, especially for the women and queer men at the centre of this collection. There is an overriding sense of isolation that mirrors the sparse landscape – Muñoz’s world is not a bountiful utopia, rather stark and barren. Never concerned by clean or redemptive endings, Muñoz’s protagonists end up near enough to where they start out, but a little bit more aware of how society is working to stifle their aspirations and hopes. There is a deep melancholy in many of these stories which blocks out any allusions of brighter futures to come.
In The Consequences, Muñoz adds even more depth and dimension to his writing, delivering a collection of stories that probe deep into the heart of Latinx experiences ... In these ways, Muñoz shows that the two things Latinx culture is most known for (language and cuisine) are far more complicated than they appear to white readers. Through such textual and symbolic details, Muñoz forges a new Latinx narrative, wherein all aspects of Latinx life are displayed with richness and complexity. Muñoz brings the reader into a Latinx world rife with meaning, showing what some of us have known all along.
The characters in Munoz’s tough and tender stories play out lives of complicated familial obligations and hard-scrabble economics in the orchards, bus stations and small apartments of California’s Central Valley as summer sizzles and hearts break ... There’s a glow of warmth as Munoz’s compassionate gaze lends grace to these incandescent tales of striving and survival.
... [a] deeply affecting collection ... 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.