The stories in this prize-winning volume are set in fictional towns, along highways, and in industries on either edge of the Mexico-California border. The author uses memory and imagination to transform these scenes into a defamiliarized frontera, a region of subtle misplacements and cultural contretemps. In these engaging and extremely human stories, gringos move south and Mexicans move north in a search for growth and difference but find that the border is much more fluid, much harder to definitively cross, than they imagined.
For instance, in “Grimshaw's Mexico,” Officer Grimshaw chauffeurs his family south of the border to buy medicine and is taken aback when his little boy appears to learn Spanish in an afternoon. Years later, back in Mexico, his son grown and gone away to live his life, a con artist gives Grimshaw his last chance to so “something foreign and unforgivable.” “Igloo among Palms,” the title story, tells of a dry-ice deliveryman on a lonely road and the somewhat ghostly hitchhiker he picks up and then loses track of late one summer night. The hitchhiker resurfaces, along with a fast-food waitress, in a date palm garden, and there they must find a way to sort out their respective lives.
These stories are deeply entertaining, full of surprises and unexpected turns that ultimately lead the reader to the narrative's fascinating resolution.