American Owned Love

American Owned Love

by Robert Boswell
     
 

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Moving to Persimmon, New Mexico, with her unconventional mother, a teenage Rita finds her life taking unexpected turns when she enters the local high school, acquires a boyfriend, and becomes involved in the revenge scheme of Rudy Salazar, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Overview

Moving to Persimmon, New Mexico, with her unconventional mother, a teenage Rita finds her life taking unexpected turns when she enters the local high school, acquires a boyfriend, and becomes involved in the revenge scheme of Rudy Salazar, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two metaphors-a river that mysteriously turns dark as blood, and a motel marquee proclaiming American Owned/Love Covers All Sins-recur with rising intensity in Boswell's complexly plotted meditation on the mysteries of love and the corrosive divisions of race and class in America. Two communities near the border of southern New Mexico are neatly cleaved by the Rio Grande. On one side is Persimmon, a predominately white, middle-class town where unconventional, sexually promiscuous Gay Schaefer lives with her preadolescent daughter, Rita. On the other is the shantytown colonia of Apuro, a hovel of shacks that lack electricity and running water, where the residents are mainly illegal immigrants. Teenaged bully, thug and paranoid psychopath Rudy Salazar lives in Apuro, and his hate for a Mexican family that has escaped to Persimmon ultimately brings him to a brutal confrontation with nave, romantic Rita. Meanwhile, the self-dramatizing Gay attempts to rationalize her decision, 12 years earlier, to try to preserve sexual excitement in her marriage by pretending to divorce her husband, Sander, whom she meets for trysts once a month. Beginning with his unforgettable debut novel, Crooked Hearts, Boswell has demonstrated a compassionate understanding of dysfunctional families and misfits, and his insights about the self-destructive behavior of most of his characters are both bitingly sharp and tender. Numerous pages of hilarious adolescent conversation are rendered with the fidelity of wiretapped evidence. But his concern for the damage caused by poverty and ignorance results in some overripe writing as he attempts to explain the sources of Rudy's rage. When, in an apocalyptic scene, Apuro is razed by the self-righteous citizens of Persimmon, "the ancient struggle between the powerful and the poor" is reiterated with the artificiality of a stage set. Though Boswell's prose is as sinewy and lucid as ever, the characters are not truly appealing, and the narrative does not have the gripping urgency of Mystery Ride. By the end, however, the most nave and innocent of them all, Rita's boyfriend Enrique Calzado, finds the key to salvation in a symbolic gesture that redeems the other characters' bumbling efforts to make sense of their lives. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In Persimmon, New Mexico, Rudy Salazar lives on the wrong side of the Rio Grande, along with the other illegal Mexican immigrants. Their homes lack electricity or indoor plumbing; they must swim the river every day to go to school and to work among the Anglo community. Rudy's barely controlled anger at the unfairness of life threatens both the Schaefer and Calzado families. Gay Schaefer's marriage doesn't prevent her from initiating a love affair with the high school basketball coach, and her unconventional lifestyle doesn't detract from a desire that her daughter, Rita, navigate her teenage years without incident. Enrique Calzado, 14, whose family is despised by Rudy because they moved across the Rio Grande to a middle-class life, learns that even his love for Rita cannot keep her out of harm's way. On the moonlit night that Gay, Enrique, and Rudy all watch the Rio Grande flow black between its banks, their lives begin to ricochet out of control. Boswell (Mystery Ride, LJ 1/93) is equally adept at conveying a sense of place and creating interesting, three-dimensional characters. This satisfying novel belongs in most libraries.Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060977467
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/01/1998
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.33(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Boswell lives with his wife, the writer Antonya Nelson, and their children in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Telluride, Colorado. He is an associate professor of English at New Mexico State University and is on the faculty of the Warren Wilson MFA program for writers. He has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN West Award for fiction, the Evil Companions Prize, and the Iowa School of Letters Award for short fiction.

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