Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Speed Reader

By Jessica English, Tracey L. Cooley, Devin O'Leary, Julie Birnbaum

AUGUST 11, 1997: 

Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts
by Himilce Novas (Riverhead, paper, $12)

Within the first paragraph of Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts, Himilce Novas explains that this is a Cuban love story about Esmeralda and Juan, twins separated at birth. Here that feverishly curious immoral side of me is piqued, and I already love this book. The irony is that Novas treats this taboo of a brother's love for his own sister as something pure and innocent, and even ideal, as each twin finds in the other the missing half. Esmeralda communicates with lizards and Morpho butterflies; Juan, a prominent architect, was raised as a rich exilado in Miami, and their father is a sweet yet twisted religious zealot. These characters are the groundwork for a satire about the separation of classes and the search for fulfillment in our society, but it is still an extraordinarily erotic love story. Novas' prose is dense--recommended to be consumed slowly and savored like poetry. (JE)

Round Rock
by Michelle Huneven (Knopf, cloth, $24)

Life in the small town of Rito, located in the Santa Bernita Valley, does not always go as planned. Round Rock, an alcohol recovery retreat, becomes a resting spot for former alcoholics, a Ph.D. candidate and a few who just cannot seem to leave. In a tangle of love, passion and friendship, Lewis Fletcher is bound to Round Rock by a former lover, Libby Ray, and a sponsor who helped him kick his alcoholism, Red Ray. In time, Fletcher uncovers the secrets that lie underneath the quaint town and the complexities of the apparent simple life. Michelle Huneven gives us a world beneath the surface and destroys common misconceptions of small-town life. The joy and sorrow shared by a community is conveyed in this beautifully written, emotionally enthralling story. (TLC)

Hi-fis & Hi-balls
by Steven Guarnaccia and Bob Sloan (Chronicle, cloth, $12.95)

It ain't easy being a bachelor in this age of rampant marriage, work and social responsibility. But Hi-fis & Hi-balls is a loving picture book that runs down the finer points of bachelor culture, from clothes to cars, mai tais to mambo lessons. Most of the ultra-cool doo-dads and atom age accouterments featured in this book come from Steven Guarnaccia's private collection of hipness. Magazine ads, book covers, record sleeves and ginchy gift items fill the pages of this slavering scrapbook. The text is almost incidental, but it does provide a snappy history of American bachelorhood with a liberal dose of hip verbiage. The design is as colorful as a Hawaiian shirt and as slick as Brylcreem. Hi-fis & Hi-balls gives all us confirmed bachelors something to aspire to before we're forced to trade in our daiquiris for diapers. (DO'L)

Here on Earth
by Larry Goodell (La Alameda Press, paper, $12)

In "Nah!," one poem in Larry Goodell's collection, the narrator explores different identities for himself, ticking off their titles and discarding them. One of them struck true for me as an apt description of the poet: "a lover of word tunes." A New Mexico native who makes his home in Placitas, Goodell's poetry rests heavily on the rhythm and musicality of the eclectic combinations of words he chooses. Thematically, the loosely-structured sonnets range from introverted reflections on writing to wonder at the New Mexico landscape. In some ways, the poetry's meaning is as subtle as the beauty of the desert landscape itself--instead of giving the reader a clear picture of his intentions in the poem, he provides a collage of images that leave an impression in the reader's mind. (JB)

--Jessica English, Tracy L. Cooley, Devin O'Leary and Julie Birnbaum

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