Pushcart Prize�winner Mindt deftly captures in his debut collection men, and those around them, as they negotiate moral binds rooted in masculinity's unwritten dos and don'ts. A high school chemistry teacher transplanted from Wisconsin to West Texas flunks the star quarterback and incurs the wrath of the townsfolk�and eventually transforms his marriage in the title story. In "Stories of the Hunt," a 12-year-old boy on his first deer-hunting expedition with his father recognizes that his father lied about his experience as a courageous woodsman. The African-American dentist of "An Artist at Work" recognizes too late that his decision to move his family from Boston to a Norman Rockwell suburb has fatally alienated his teenage artist son. Similarly, in "Free Spirits," a grown son has to come to terms with his psychotic hospitalized father, who can be as violent as he is sympathetic. Mindt does not present easy choices for his characters, like the heartbroken elderly Mexican-American father in the beautifully composed opener, "Sabor a Mi": he treks to Taos, N.Mex., on the occasion of his adored daughter's marriage to another woman. Though his characters are distinct, Mindt concentrates less on people than on their conflicts, and the resulting discord is tense and surprising throughout. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus ReviewsAn exploration of masculinity through a series of unsentimental stories of American fatherhood. At the center of each of Mindt's stories is a father attempting to connect in some way with his children. In the first story, "Sabor a M'," a Mexican-American man muses on his children's assimilation as he hitchhikes to his daughter's second wedding, telling the driver that he is going to a funeral because his daughter is marrying another woman. Russell, the African-American father in "An Artist at Work," doesn't know how to handle his son's creative ways of dealing with his racial identity. After Anthony burns a cross on the family lawn, for example, Russell breaks into his room and finds oddly beautiful photos that Anthony has taken of the daughter of the local Asian dry cleaner. In "Stories of the Hunt," Walt betrays his father at a hunting competition in Spokane after the father tells a lie about a catch. The title story, set in West Texas, concerns a Yankee biology teacher who dares to alienate the community, as well as his family, by flunking the captain of the football team. And in "Reception," a child tries to set up his widower father with a newly divorced neighbor, bringing the two together with forged notes and promises of freshly brewed iced tea. A universal collection, the author's debut, that not only paints a full portrait of the Father, but of his country as well.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 5.80(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
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Male of the Species based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I have a very bad habit of resisting reading recommendations, even from people I respect. Along the way I've missed out on some great books. This collection of short stories came with the VERY enthusiastic endorsement of my daughter. Since I'm trying to overcome this habit I put it on my "To Read" pile. If all the recommendations were as good as this one I'd break this habit in a minute. Alex Mindt is a gifted writer working in what many people beleive is the hardest writing category there is - the short story. This collection focuses about relationships with our fathers. In eleven stories he takes to an astounding cross section of humanity. From Vietnamese immigrants trying to find their vision of the American Dream ("King of America") to a small town teacher who is willing to do what he believes is right no matter what ("Male of the Species"). The story of a son who is a complete puzzle to his father ("An Artist at Work") to a daughter trying to find her way back to a father with dementia ("Karroo"). They criss cross our nation and our experience of family. As I prepared to write this I thought about which was my favorite, which spoke to me most deeply. As I reviewed the stories I realized I couldn't choose any one, or even a couple. Each story is a jewel, infinite in wonder. These characters have richness and depth. The stories are simple but filled with complex emotion. This is a book that you can read again and again and again. Let me recommend it to you.