From Publishers Weekly
"Okay, so I wasn't going to be a great poet or a legendary writer. I wouldn't lead revolutions, and I wouldn't compose extraordinary music. I was only a guy who had just found the world as it was, after throwing out thousands of years of dreams and nightmares to secure my fragile existence," confides the narrator in the final story of this earthy collection. He could speak for all the characters in these 12 stories of Mexican-American life just north of the border. Typical themes of love, death, coming-of-age and family life drive the narratives, but the El Paso setting lends them cultural depth. In "Punching Chickens," a teenage boy's first job is unloading chickens from trucks. At the end of the day he is bloodied and fatigued, but he is rewarded with the respect and camaraderie of his fellow workers, and the conviction that he will not quit or complain. A series of tales about older men and women explores their vulnerability, loneliness and faith in God as they near death, while other stories concentrate on young adults caught in the cultural gap between their Mexican heritage and American lives. The title story brings these themes together as a lonely widower remarries a woman his children despise. The grown children hold on to Mexican traditions as much as possible, but speak a mix of English and Spanish, while the youngest, 11-year-old Juanito, is confused by the actions of adults, including his stepmother's rationing of tortillas. The prose may be plain and unadorned, but these stories are richly satisfying. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
paper 0-8165-1961-7 The Last Tortilla ($40.00; paper $17.95; Sept. 3; 240 pp.; 0-8165-1960-9; paper 0-8165-1961-7). A debut collection of 13 stories dealing with El Paso's often impoverished, invariably feisty Mexican-American populace. Troncoso's immensely lifelike characters include ``Tuyi, the fat boy everybody ignored,'' in an unusually inventive coming-of-age tale (``The Snake''), an elderly grandmother (``The Abuelita''), whose undimmed zest for life implicitly rebukes her grandson's scholarly pessimism, and a college student aglow with memories of the older Mexican woman whose ``unabashed Bohemian warmth'' sweetly overpowered him. Though sometimes slightly overexplicit, Troncoso's wistful, endearingly romantic tales vividly dramatize the inherent richness of even subsistence-level lives. He's a respecter of persons, and in turn his characters earn your affection and respect. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the