Nicholosa Mohr GEORGESS McHARGUE - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Realism is the order of the day in ["In Nueva York"]—realism with an ethnic garnish…. [The book] would provide a profitable unit to a high-school social studies class….

[It] seems, however, too obviously intended as slice-of-life fiction with the result that the characters are busier being Puerto Rican-Americans than being people. Several of the stories present intriguing situations but end inconclusively. An old woman's long lost son turns out to be a dwarf. A gay male marries a gay female. "The English Lesson" embarrassingly recalls H∗Y∗M∗A∗N K∗A∗P∗L∗A∗N without laughs. Happily, [something] better shows itself in the last few stories. In "The Robbery" and "Coming to Terms" a store owner kills a 15-year-old thief during a holdup and is publicly badgered by the dead youth's mother with demands that the storeowner pay for a headstone. In the end the man comes to terms, not with the mother ("This woman is stark raving nuts"), but with the battered alley cat whose life he has been threatening for years. There should have been more of this. All in all, it's Sociologists 8, Readers 4. (p. 29)

Georgess McHargue, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1977 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 22, 1977.