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‘The Consequences’: Manuel Muñoz’s story collection is a tender telling of the complex lives of farmworkers and families

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Manuel Muñoz
Manuel Muñoz

In Manuel Muñoz’s story collection, The Consequences, we learn about characters and their conflicts in California’s Central Valley–in the small towns around Fresno. Most of the stories are set in the ‘80s. Most of the characters are Mexican or Mexican American.

They are farmworkers–those unsung, invisible laborers who do the fine-fingered work that helps put food on our tables. They are also persecuted by the migra and others in their circles as they manage that strange brand of displacement experienced by characters whose identity is not so easily defined or named. They are American-born or from Mexico, young or old, gay or straight. The characters are young mothers and teens, husbands and wives, migrant workers or the foreman of those workers.

All stories are about loss. They say for us the unsayable. The stories stand for the things we cannot articulate. What do these stories by Manuel Muñoz say for us?

A lot—about the journeys we take from one country to another, from one town to the next, from one stage of life to whatever inevitably awaits us. With these stories we see the reality of human nature, of human foibles, but also the ways we work toward small moments of reckoning with our verdades–our truths–as a kind of survival by simply moving forward, pressing on, persisting.

Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.