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Book Review "The Ghost of John Wayne and Other Stories"

“The Ghost of John Wayne and Other Stories”

By Ray Gonzalez

University of Arizona Press, 2001



This book reassures those who fear the demise of the short story. Ray Gonzalez, award-winning poet, editor, anthologist and professor, has written a collection of short stories that is breathtaking. These are tales of the Texas border country where he was born.




It’s not for everyone. The author uses ghosts, magic and myth to underline his unusual fiction. Ostensibly to give a feel for Mexican-American relations, Gonzalez explores life in the Southwest through the minds of its residents, probing their faults and underlining their virtues.

Twenty-five stories make up this extraordinary book. “The Grandfather Horse” tells of a magic steed, but its real emphasis is on the family’s interrelationships. “The Chinese Restaurant” is a tender tale of the bond between a son and his divorced father. The title story reinforces the belief that John Wayne’s ghost haunts the Alamo.

Gonzalez’s list of honors and awards is noteworthy, as is the roster of books of poetry and anthologies he has had published. I am most impressed by his teaching statement from the University of Minnesota, where he is an associate professor:

“As writers, we are fortunate in being able to learn our craft from voices of experience. What we return to the world is a gift. The chance to make that gift is what a university creative-writing program is about.”

– Joan Agar, Nevada City


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