Cover image for Borderlands : short fictions
Borderlands : short fictions
Blake, James Carlos.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Avon Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
241 pages ; 21 cm
The outsider: an introductory memoir -- Runaway horses -- Three tales of the Revolution -- Under the sierra -- Aliens in the garden -- The house of Esperanza -- La vida loca -- Referee -- Texas woman blues.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this extraordinary collection of short fiction, acclaimed author James Carlos Blake journeys from the 19th century Western frontier to the borderlands of the present day in eight unforgettable tales of love, vengeance and violence. Within these pages we meet the son of a wealthy landowner, now reduced to howling at the moon from behind madhouse bars; an illegal immigrant offered the love of a flawed beauty who will echo both in his future and his past; a Texas woman born into a life that will either kill her or take a lifetime to survive; and many more of the people occupying the Borderlands.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Love conquers all in these two excellent short-story collections. Still, both authors have radically different perspectives on that all-encompassing emotion. For Di Blasi, love is transcendent, elevating people above the tragic and mundane circumstances of their lives. Readers will discover many good things about Prayers to discuss with others. Di Blasi's characters are endowed with a state of grace by discovering love in accidental and unlikely situations. Her writing reflects a rich imagination, a clever wit, and a sharp, lean prose style that jumps off the page. Prayers is a bold statement of a tremendous talent. Borderlands is an equally excellent and inventive collection. For Blake, love is a conduit for fate, the means by which those who strive to triumph over the mean frontier of the Texas/Mexico border are lured to its pitfalls. The mean country of the Texas borderlands is the setting, but the stories span generations and include nineteenth-century landlords and late-twentieth-century tragic heroines. Love (or lust, to be more specific) is an albatross around the neck of Blake's tragic heroes. His stories are colorful and replete with clever nuances. Both books are excellent reads and worthwhile acquisitions. --Ted Leventhal

Publisher's Weekly Review

Again mining the territory of bleak lives on the fringes of society, L.A. Times Book Prize-winner Blake (In the Rogue Blood and Red Grass River) has crafted seven short stories and a novella about people surviving in the merciless borderlands dividing Mexico and the U.S. Characters from South Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and Texas are fully sculpted in Blake's visionary dystopia, their struggles neither heroic nor dishonorable. The complexity of border culture is graphically drawn, with its omnipresent threats of la migra, unemployment, bigotry and despair. Blake begins the collection with an engaging and informative introductory memoir, a chronology of his childhood in the borderlands and of his mixed Mexican/Texan heritage. The stories that follow are brutal, stark and horrifying; in "Runaway Horses," a just-widowed man is driven mad when he attempts to deliver just punishment to his wife's rapist and murderer. In another narrative, an illegal immigrant falls in love with an ex-prostitute with three children, but succumbs to his fear of commitment. Female characters suffer violently in these stories, often victims of rape, incest or murder. "Texas Woman Blues" is a searing portrait of hopelessness and horror. Dolores (dolar, pain in Spanish) experiences a lifetime of pain before her 17th birthday. Abandoned by her father, who ends up in prison, on her mother's death she is sent to live with relatives and is raped by her uncle. When she finally bolts free, the cycle of victimization expands into a bleak and unforgettable chronicle of dead-end options. Blake writes with a fearless precision and a ruthless sensibility, his prose is spare and tough, and his descriptions detailed and cinematic. This is gritty, raw, bare-knuckled fiction, blazing with an extraordinary kind of violence, and certainly not for the faint of heart. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Blake's (In the Rogue Blood, LJ 9/1/97) first collection of short fiction begins with an autobiographical account and then turns to a series of linked fictions about poor, young, hard-working, dignified Mexican or Mexican American men, some of whom have immigrated to the United States looking for a better life. One loses his savings to a gun-toting hitchhiker, another falls for an ex-prostitute. A third becomes a boxer, only to lose a championship fight to his arrogant schoolmate. He then becomes a referee and takes his revenge. In the final story, "Texas Woman Blues," a young woman named Dolores leads a peripatetic life in hardscrabble southern Texas, the territory staked out by novelist Lionel Garc¡a. Time and again men use her, until she falls in love with Buddy. Then Buddy is killed, and soon Dolores, saddled with two unloved children, commits suicide. Blake's talent is obvious, especially in the first stories, but "Texas Woman Blues" could have been longer and more developed. Recommended for literary collections and those with a Latino audience.ÄHarold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.