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Night at the Fiestas: Stories Paperback – March 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Though not all of these 10 short stories are equal in their teen appeal, those that have it are clever and surprising. "Jubilee," for example, concerns two neighbor girls home from Stanford for the summer. Parker, the oldest, is the daughter of a ranch owner, while scholarship student Andrea's father is a worker on the ranch. Andrea has a chip on her shoulder about Parker's wealth that spills over in ugly, unexpected ways. In the title story, teenage Frances rides her father's bus to the downtown fiesta but gets in over her head when she flirts with a "painter." Each of the stories is set in a rural New Mexico—a setting not often represented in fiction. Most feature characters with unrelenting hubris being forced to examine their often prejudiced attitudes toward others. The role of religion is examined in three different stories. In "The Five Wounds," Amadeo is hoping to play the role of Jesus in this year's Good Friday celebration when his foul-mouthed, pregnant teenage daughter arrives on his doorstep. In "Family Reunion," Claire goes on vacation with her Mormon neighbors, but Mormonism isn't what she thought it might be. Finally, in "Ordinary Sins," a woman works at a rectory and gets drawn into a conflict between the beloved older priest and the strict newcomer. This work offers dark and often hopeless but thoughtful portrayals of working class New Mexicans from different perspectives. VERDICT Like many anthologies, pick and choose the stories to share/read/teach.—Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Remarkable. . . . In almost every story, Quade goes for vivid spectacle and theatrical plot twists . . . But Quade focuses just as intensely on the subtler customs, cruelties, kindnesses, and skewed alliances of precarious family life.”
- Ann Hulbert, The Atlantic
“Fresh, funny…. A gifted storyteller with an eye for quirky, compelling detail…. A poised and polished debut.”
- Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News
“[Lives] up to even the loftiest of expectations.”
- Bustle (Spring Break Recommended Read)
“A fantastic writer, both stylish and sagacious. The stories here are taut and tense, while at the same time morally complicated, which is to say they cut sharp and they cut deep. . . . A book of extraordinary virtuosity.”
- Justin Torres
“A stunning debut. With unflinching honesty and relentless compassion, Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that are uncannily alive. Vibrant, incisive, and wickedly funny, Night at the Fiestas announces the arrival of a fiercely original new voice.”
- Jennifer duBois
“A writer of extraordinary perception, a sharp-eyed truth-teller who renders her characters and the landscapes they inhabit with exquisite care. Each of these marvelous stories illuminates the messy, tender, unexplored borderland inside us all where our finest virtues bleed into our worst faults. A brilliant debut.”
- Maggie Shipstead
Top customer reviews
We disagreed a bit on whether the stories were well-suited to be collected as they were. The characters have strong, unique voices, but there are several stories concerning young women of a similar age. Some of us felt that made the compilation even stronger, allowing the reader to compare reactions to a similar emotion through varied lenses. But some felt that as a collection it was less diverse than it could have been. Favorite stories were "Nemecia," "Night at the Fiestas," and "The Manzanos."
Would recommend this to others!
Kristen Valdez-Quades is an architect storyteller who built momentum in each story.
Her prose has the subtle power to teach readers, students, writing teachers, and professional authors how to design compelling experiences.
In each episode she arrected a fictionalized anthropological, political, sociological, psychological, and theological temple. This allowed for the potential development of every story to stand alone as it's own novel or family miniseries saga.
As readers proceed with each account they will discover Valdez-Quades constructed an authentic SouthWestern community for everyone to settle in.
It is perfect for high school and college students alike to read at home or in schools.
However, adult readers will appreciate the literary techniques, adult themes, and multivisceral world she structured.