Western Avenue and Other FictionsBook - 2012
In these engaging and often gripping short stories, Fred Arroyo takes us into the lives of working-class Hispanic migrants and immigrants, who are often invisible while they work in plain sight across America. As characters intertwine and evolve across stories, Arroyo creates a larger narrative that dramatizes the choices we make to create identity, make meaning, and deal with hardships and loss. His stories are linked by a concern with borders, both real and imagined, and the power that memory and imagination have to shape and structure our lives.
Through his characters and their true-to-life situations, Arroyo makes visible both internal and external conflicts that are deeply rooted in--and affected by--place. A bodega, a university town, a factory, a Chicago street, some dusty potato fields: here is where we encounter ordinary people who work, dream, love, and persist in the face of violence, bereavement, disappointment, and loss--particularly the loss of mothers, fathers, and loved ones.
Arroyo's characters experience a strange wonder as the midwestern United States increasingly appears to be a place created by the Latinas and Latinos who remain out of the sight and minds of Anglos. In lyrical language weighted by detail, exquisite imagery, and evocative story, Arroyo imagines characters who confront the tattered connections between memory and longing, generations and geographies, place and displacement, as they begin to feel their own longings, "breathing in whatever was offered, feeling, deep in the small and fragile borders of my heart," as one character puts it, "that it came with a sorrow I could never betray."