Monday, April 7, 2008

Guacamole Dip

My life has been a bit of a whirlwind of late. A few months back, my wife and I spoke with a real estate agent. In what seemed like no time at all, our house was on the market and we were looking for a new home. Not long after that, we had a buyer who wanted us to agree to make some repairs to our current home before she’d sign anything, and we were making similar demands upon a seller. And so began the calls to the plumbers and handymen, the asbestos technicians and chimney inspectors, the oil-tank removers and brickwork experts, the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers.

Then there was the mortgage to secure, and now there’s the whole issue of actually moving everything we’ve accumulated over the past ten years into our new home in the space of twelve hours. On top of that, there was the enjoyable if ill-timed trip to San Francisco; there were (and always will be) papers to grade, lessons to plan, conferences to be held with students in various stages of compositional meltdown, and all of my various and sundry writing projects to see to. I’m almost tempted to cry, “Calgon, take me away!” The only problem, however, is that my bathtub leaks (another thing the buyer wants fixed), and my students tell me they’ve never seen a Calgon commercial in their lives. Which might leave me at a loss if not for Guacamole Dip (Sunbelt 2008), the latest collection of short stories from Daniel Reveles.

Like Reveles’ previous collections (Enchiladas, Rice, and Beans and Tequila, Lemon, and Salt), Guacamole Dip is set in the border town of Tecate – a great place to visit, if only for minutes at a time amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life. Populated by a cast of vibrant, loving, giving characters, Tecate is, in the words of one character, “a long way from Krispy Kreme.” And thank goodness! Having Guacamole Dip on hand over the last few weeks has been like carrying an instant vacation along with me wherever I’ve gone. No Krispy Kreme, no Starbucks, no ATMs, no worries. Just the welcoming sound of sidewalk vendors hawking their wares, the hearty songs of strolling mariachis, and the constant banter of Los Cafeteros, the town’s brain-trust, which gathers daily to discuss philosophy and politics over endless cups of coffee. Sure, there’s some intrusion from up north - Monologo de una Vagina is playing in the local theater – but for the most part, the town is a world apart, with a logic and karmic ecosystem all its own.

Beautifully written and brought to vivid life by a master storyteller, Guacamole Dip is the perfect, relaxing antidote to the senseless stresses of the modern world.

William Faulkner had Yoknapatawpha, and Daniel Reveles has Tecate.

Guess which one I’d rather visit.

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