At Powell’s, via Rain Taxi, John Madera reviews Andrew Zornoza’s Where I Stay.

Zornoza’s narrator, with a languorous but precise lyricism, traverses the Mid- and Southwestern United States, telling tales of greasy, smoky bus terminals and truck stops. He sadly recalls the loneliness of diners, strip malls, and factories, the cold hostility of bridges, warehouses, and urban blight, contrasting all of it with the desert’s unforgiving glare, a dirty river’s snaky stain, forgotten muddy pastures, and the desiccated environs of prairies, plateaus, and mountains….

He selects details with a jeweler’s precision, endowing them with symbolic meaning and using rhythmic prose that twists and turns like the many roads on which his narrator travels. Amidst all the beauty, however, is much terror: his sister once tried to kill herself; two immigration officers terrorize him; a police officer beats him up before he sleeps in a cornfield. There are bizarre encounters with pimps and prostitutes as well as a dream of lovers connected by several aluminum umbilical cords….

Consider Where I Stay a road map that carefully marks its scorched landscapes and anonymous small towns while also pointing out the desultory crew of squatters, border guards, prostitutes, drug dealers — transitory figures all — who live hardscrabble lives within them. As such, Zornoza is as much a novelist as he is a cartographer of loneliness, doubt, and fear, one that fearlessly delineates the stark realms of disappointment, unrequited love, and unfulfilled dreams.

Read the full review.

Read more about Where I Stay, or all posts tagged Andrew Zornoza.