The Ghost of John Wayne
and Other Stories
The vast Texas borderland is a place divided, a land of legends and lies, sanctification and sinfulness, history and amnesia, haunted by the ghosts of the oppressed and the forgotten, who still stir beneath the parched fields and shimmering blacktops. It is a realm filled with scorpion eaters and mescal drinkers, cowboys and Indians, Anglos and Chicanos, spirit horses and beat-up pickups, brujos and putas, aching passion and seething rage, apparitions of the Virgin and bodies in the Rio Grande.
In his first collection of short fiction, award-winning poet, editor, and anthologist Ray Gonzalez powerfully evokes both the mystery and the reality of the El Paso border country where he came to manhood.
Here, in a riverbed filled with junked cars and old bones, a young boy is given a dark vision of a fiery future. Under the stones of the Alamo, amid the gift shops and tour buses, the wraiths of fallen soldiers cry out to be remembered. By an ancient burial site at the bottom of a hidden canyon, two lovers come face to face with their own dreams and fears.
In these stories, Ray Gonzalez is a literary alchemist, blending contemporary culture with ancient tradition to give a new voice to the peoples of the border.
Winner, Western Heritage Award for Fiction, 2002
Second Place, Best Literary Short Stories, Latino Literary Hall of Fame, 2002
"[A] remarkable debut short-story collection. Set in El Paso, Juarez, San Antonio, and New Mexico, his stories resemble legends or folktales in their brevity, simplicity of style, and profound and resonant mystery. . . . Gonzalez conjures a magical and entrancing world rife with sorrow and inexplicable powers, haunted by the spirits of murdered and displaced Mexicans and Indians, and blessed by miracles, love, and subtle humor." —Booklist
"Novelists can sometimes waste words and still make a lot of money; writers of short fiction mete out their words carefully and usually make only friends. This is Gonzalez's first collection of short fiction, and he does not squander a syllable. . . . Gonzalez shows real talent as a storyteller. As a prolific poet and editor, Gonzalez is well known in literary circles, but he has yet to achieve wider recognition. This could be a step in that direction." —Publishers Weekly
"Gonzalez has written what can be likened to a delectable meal. Divided into three sections, the book builds in flavor, richness, and intensity. . . . This carefully considered body of short fiction, Gonzalez's first collection, is recommended for literary and Latino collections." —Library Journal
"Gonzalez is a terrific writer with a straightforward and genuine style and has a wonderful way with words." —Southwest Book Views
"Gonzalez's prose has a spookiness to it. His beautiful descriptions of nature will have readers repeatedly going over his stories." —El Paso Times