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Drowning Tucson
     

Drowning Tucson

4.4 5
by Aaron Michael Morales
 

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“Morales wrestles with nothing less than the parameters of the human soul.”—Luis Alberto Urrea

Set in Tucson’s toughest neighborhoods during the late 1980s, this explosive debut follows the disintegration of the Nuñez family and the people whose paths they cross. From crooked cops to prostitutes plying their trade along the

Overview

“Morales wrestles with nothing less than the parameters of the human soul.”—Luis Alberto Urrea

Set in Tucson’s toughest neighborhoods during the late 1980s, this explosive debut follows the disintegration of the Nuñez family and the people whose paths they cross. From crooked cops to prostitutes plying their trade along the “Miracle Mile,” each person’s destiny is linked by crushing poverty, the brutal codes of the street, and the harsh nature of the desert. In this place of drought and flood, “civilization” is every bit as dangerous as its surroundings.

Fast-paced and unrelenting, each chapter draws the reader in with the first line and doesn’t let go until the heartrending finale. Like a southwest version of HBO’s The Wire, this riveting novel is an episodic portrait of a desperate, violent America, populated by characters as lethal as they are sympathetic.

Genuinely relevant and never gratuitous, Morales writes about the side of humanity that society fears and ignores. Without judgment, he portrays the lives of young gangbangers, despondent mothers, gay teenage runaways, corrupt preachers, twisted pedophiles, murderous vigilantes, and broken families—all just trying to get by.

Born in 1976, Aaron Michael Morales grew up in Tucson. At age ten, he became a paperboy for the Arizona Daily Star and since then his jobs have ranged from working in a car parts factory to bartending in Chicago’s Oak Park neighborhood. He currently teaches writing and literature at Indiana State University and is working on his second novel. Visit him online at www.aaronmichaelmorales.com.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Morales's sometimes powerful but disappointing debut portrays Tucson as a crumbling city teetering on the edge of disaster, where violence triumphs over every character and even the most hopeful of circumstances. The streets are run by the Latin Kings gang; their fates, like nearly all of Morales's characters, are sealed at birth. Among the expansive milieu, there's Jaime, a straitlaced teenager seeking revenge for the murder of his boyfriend; Mr. Gutierrez, a kindhearted old man overwhelmed with grief; Peanut, a gang member who wants a better life for his younger sister; and the women of Tucson, who seem to have little choice outside of becoming rape victims or prostitutes. Unfortunately, Morales's willingness to fall into scenes of graphic violence—not only to drive his point home, but for shock value and, often, to stand in for more original or artful prose—becomes woefully predictable. For a novel that wishes so earnestly for a better future for its downtrodden characters, it does everything in its power to obliterate those hopes in the reader. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Snapshots of life on the lower rungs in the Arizona desert, and the graphic degradations it provokes in its denizens. Though Morales' debut work of fiction is billed as a novel, it's more a collection of loosely linked stories; some characters appear numerous times, but nothing's lost if the pieces are read out of order. (Indeed, the book has multiple tables of contents, seemingly encouraging this approach.) The author focuses on Tuscon's most troubled, violent and grittiest inhabitants. The opener, "Torchy's," centers on the initiation of a young gang member, and the closing piece, "Rainbow," tracks the slow emotional and physical deterioration of a young prostitute. Morales affects a plainspoken, colloquial style that captures the rough-and-tumble attitudes of the people who live there. But the stories, usually overly long, suffer from ungainly tonal shifts, lumbering toward hyper-violent conclusions that erase the realism of the opening pages. In "Kindness," for instance, a teenage boy arrives in Tuscon after learning his boyfriend has been killed by a gang of homophobes, and soon he takes up residence with an aging flower-shop owner tormented by the death of his son. By the story's end, the boy has acquired an unrealistic thirst for bloody vengeance, and his caretaker subjects himself to an absurd act of self-annihilation. In "Loveboat," an Air Force officer awakens to his homosexuality, then grows self-destructive to a degree ridiculous even for a high-strung military man. Morales' shorter stories have better focus and a more consistent tone. In "El Camino," a car on fire crystallizes one character's childhood fears and exposes a nobility he is rarely able to display on the streets.Stories full of potentially intriguing scenarios but marred by B-movie horror endings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566892407
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Publication date:
05/01/2010
Pages:
330
Sales rank:
1,389,178
Product dimensions:
9.02(w) x 6.06(h) x 0.92(d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1976, Aaron Michael Morales grew up in Tucson. At age ten, he became a paperboy for the Arizona Daily Star and since then his jobs have ranged from working in a car parts factory to bartending in Chicago's Oak Park neighborhood. He currently teaches writing and literature at Indiana State University and is working on his second novel.

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Drowning Tucson 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time with the style of writing - multiple paragraphs of mundane ramblings. Having lived in Tucson I found the setting familiar enough to relate but the book was too doom and gloom. I can't recall any decent outcome to the lives of any of the characters mentioned. Book would NOT be listed on a Tucson tourist "must read" list.
Ivelisse Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Very gritty but very heartfelt. One of the best books I have read all year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago