In Search of Snow: A Novel

In Search of Snow: A Novel

by Luis Alberto Urrea
     
 

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Set in Arizona in the mid-1950s and alive with the unique racial mix of the American Southwest, In Search of Snow tells the story of Mike McGurk, a sort of blue-collar Don Quixote, whose search for love forms the backbone of this American picaresque novel. Son of the redoubtable Texaco Turk McGurk - gas station operator, small-time boxer, and wandering misfit who lets… See more details below

Overview

Set in Arizona in the mid-1950s and alive with the unique racial mix of the American Southwest, In Search of Snow tells the story of Mike McGurk, a sort of blue-collar Don Quixote, whose search for love forms the backbone of this American picaresque novel. Son of the redoubtable Texaco Turk McGurk - gas station operator, small-time boxer, and wandering misfit who lets loose foul-mouthed slurs about almost everyone and hews to an impossible, often hilarious, code of masculinity - Mike yearns for his mother, who died when he was seven, and for a sense of family and connection, which the emotionally bankrupt Turk, for all his bluster and redneck charm, cannot provide. In his search for love and a life in the Arizona desert, where opportunities for both are limited, Mike makes a new friend in Bobo Garcia, a Mexican-American prize-fighter-turned-mechanic who is also a World War II veteran, albeit one who saw more of that war's horrors than Mike. Bobo rescues Mike from the clutches of Ramses Castro and his Indian gang and accompanies him on a journey that leads from one unlikely adventure to the next. From the excitement of erotic love, which beckons in the person of Mike's college-bound cousin Lily, to the comfort and responsibility of familial love amid the sprawling Garcia clan, Mike struggles with the sometimes comic dilemma of manhood. Although he begins as the victim of circumstance, Mike finally takes charge of his own destiny through a cathartic act of destruction that lights up his beloved Arizona desert. With a remarkable variety of idiosyncratic characters who are imagined in detail so telling that even their bedroom slippers speak volumes and with natural scenes so intimately rendered that you can hear the delicate sound of sand granules rustling along the tarmac in a light desert wind, In Search of Snow introduces an exciting new writer whose gift for fiction is as dazzling as his prose.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Urrea wrests strange, beautiful poetry out of a mean, lean desert terrain--Arizona, mid-1950s--in this impressive first novel, a blend of deadpan humor, picaresque adventure and search for self. Home for Mike McGurk is a gas station run by his widower father, Wallace (aka Texaco Turk) McGurk, an ornery bigot whose glory days as bare-knuckles boxing champ and WW II hero are behind him. Mike, age 27, is adrift; haunted by the memory of his mother, who died when he was seven, he has a guilt-ridden affair with his college-bound cousin Lily and then gets mixed up with Ramses Castro, a roughneck Apache gang leader. When Texaco Turk dies, Mike is rescued by Bobo Garcia, the Mexican-American mechanic. Their peripatetic adventures end in Bobo's hometown, where Mike, informally adopted into the Garcia family, comes to terms with his feelings about his macho father. Some of the novel's strongest scenes are the early depictions of Mike and his father, whose bluster is a veneer to hide his own sense of failure. Equally moving are Bobo's flashbacks to Buchenwald, where he helped liberate inmates of the Nazi concentration camp. Author of a nonfiction book on the Mexican border ( Across the Wire ), Urrea brings the glint of truth to his fictional characters and settings. Author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Urrea's first novel--he is the author of the nonfiction work Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border (Doubleday, 1992)--deals with the delayed coming of age of 29-year-old Mike McGurk. Mike and his father Turk run a gas station in an Arizona small town in the 1950s. The domineering and combative Turk, an amateur boxer, is unable to express emotion and refuses to discuss the death of his wife. Mike, who lost his mother when he was seven, yearns for love and has a brief affair with his cousin Lily. After his father dies fighting a much younger man, Mike is forced to make his own choices and forms a friendship with Bobo, a Mexican American mechanic who likes to rescue people. Although his plot occasionally gets away from him, Urrea has crafted a touching and interesting story rich in memorable characterizations and sense of place.-- Harriet Gottfried, NYPL
From the Publisher
"Urrea wrests strange, beautiful poetry out of the mean, lean desert terrain." —Publishers Weekly"Urrea is one of the hottest Chicano writers around." —The Nation"I laughed so hard at one scene in this book that I pulled a muscle in my chest, which makes In Search of Snow a literal rib-splitter." —The Albuquerque Journal"Urrea is, in three words, One Terrific Writer. Without getting in the way of the story, his hypnotic, ethereal passages paint a magnificent background. More than once, you'll find yourself rereading a paragraph, not for clarification or out of literary curiosity about how he pulled it off, but simply because it's so beautifully done." —San Diego Union-Tribune

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060925987
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/28/1995
Pages:
272

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