Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn the title story, a bus carrying passengers newly arrived in Morocco from the airport at Casablanca to Rabat hits an ox. As the driver and a passing farm boy attempt to get the dead animal off the road so the bus can continue, the passengers look around them. Readers see their reactions to the incident, and their impressions of one another. Thus, ingeniously, we are introduced to the major players in these 14 related tales--three Americans who refuse to fall prey to the typical tourist attractions. They give to beggars with their eyes wide open, anxious for blessings they suspect are meaningless. It is through such stubborn sensitivity that their personalities, dreams and failures are revealed. Portraying three lives in crisis, the stories center on introspective moments, and often transform our cliches of tourism. With the collection set in a Moroccan landscape, it's difficult for readers to escape echoes of Paul Bowles, but the focus here is so clearly on an egotistical American perspective at odds with native culture that Ardizzone is able to offer fresh insights. His previous collection, The Evening News, won the Flannery O'Connor Award. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Library JournalArdizzone avoids the common trap of setting up the foreign as the other and thereby creating illusory counterparts to our own ways of being. Initially, such a dualistic approach seems certain as he ushers the reader into the dramatically unsatisfactory lives of the three Americans. Divorced and with no heart for academic advancement, Peter sets off for Morocco to arrange an exchange program in the hopes of using it as a stepping stone to an administrative career. Susan comes to Morocco to prove that she can do exactly what others (notably her ex-boyfriend) say she can't. Henry is dying of cancer, and only the fateful stop of his finger on a spinning globe brings him to Morocco. Yet as the three begin to experience the sights and sounds of Morocco, full of contradiction, the initial presentation of Americans seeking solace in the exotic gives way to powerful interactions. In weaving stories of human compassion, Ardizzone has achieved a fiction rich and textured, deserving the highest regard. This collection is recommended for all libraries.-- Cherry W. Li, Dickinson Coll. Lib., Carlisle, Pa.
What People are Saying About This
David Bradley"Ardizzone has gone into an alien land, taken it on its own terms, and captured the essence of the place -- the smells, the rhythms, the colors, the philosophy. When he's done, the place is as it is -- it is we who seem different."
W D. Wetherell"Larabi's Ox places Tony Ardizzone in our first rank of story writers. His range is wide enough to embrace man and beast, infidel and muslim, the fallen and the saved. His empathy's such that he immediately makes compelling any character that appears. These are wise stories, memorably told, beautifully written."
Gloria Naylor"Larabi's Ox offers what the best of fiction does: a stealth human landscape with its terrifying heights and abysses; it's oddly shaped and jarring strangeness; the awed realization on your part that, against all rhythm and reason, the artist has taken you home."
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