Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories by Rudolfo Anaya

I do not remember who recommended to me The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories by Rudolfo Anaya. Was it So Many Books So Little Time? Was it Manuel Ramos of La Bloga? Neither looks familiar, so I think not. Was it Janet St. John in the March 15 issue of Booklist? Was it Adam Hill in the Chicago Tribune on May 3? It could be either, so thanks to both. It is a great book.

The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories collects pieces written by University of New Mexico professor Rudolfo Anaya over a thirty year period, a time in which he also wrote several novels. Moods and settings vary in the stories, but most have a supernatural element. Hill says in his review that Anaya is a founder in the Chicano Literature movement. I am reminded of the magical realism in works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the horror in some stories makes me want to reread Edgar Allan Poe. In his Introduction (read the stories first), Anaya says he is writing myths. No matter how you label the stories, they are memorable.

Which story is my favorite? I might choose "The Village That the Gods Painted Yellow" because I have visited the Mayan ruins at Uxmal and can see how he captured the feel of the site. The mystery in "Jeronimo's Journey" kept me wondering what was real and what was imagined. In several stories, notably "The Man Who Found a Pistol," the present and the past become entwined so time is bridged. The end of the first story "The Road to Platero" is shocking. They are all so very good.

More libraries should acquire this short story collection and put it on display.

Anaya, Rudolfo. The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006. ISBN 080613738x

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