Reviewer Sandra Shwayder Sanchez: Sandra is
a retired attorney and co-founder of a small non-profit publishing
collective: The Wessex Collective with whom she has published two short fiction collections
(A Mile in These Shoes and Three Novellas) and one
Her most recent novel, The Secret of A Long Journey is soon to be released by Floricanto Press in April 2012 and her first novel, The Nun, originally published by Plain View Press in 1992 is being reissued in a 2nd Edition with additional material by PVP in March 2012.
Publisher: Inverted A Press
Publisher: Inverted A Press
I remember as a young
child being appalled by something that was blatantly unfair and being
told by an adult at the time that “life is unfair” and I
remember thinking that the resignation in his voice was
heartbreaking. Vacuum County is a bizarre mythical metaphor for
the unfairness of life and reminds this reader of such classics as
Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver’s Travels and the grimmest of fairy
tales, not to mention the stories in both the new and old
Several characters embody either a virtue or a sin
and are thereby metaphors for what we aspire to encourage or
discourage in human nature. Several characters talk about their own
responses to being victimized including a battered woman who thinks
she should have stayed and taken the abuse as that would have been
preferable to the lonliness she now lives with. Several characters
engage in discussions of slavery and choices and force the reader to
realize that every day of our own lives we make choices that enslave
us to difficult situations.
The back cover description includes this statement: “A familiar saga about taxation, lechery and covetousness of Biblical proportions” and indeed biblical themes provide a constant underlying current as does the inevitable corruption of career politics. The protagonist reads about or is lectured on the history of the prominent family she lives with going all the way back to Hannibal, so we glimpse the continuing and universal saga of persecution, domination and enslavement that has characterized human civilization from its earliest history to the present day.
The tale is told through
various sets of eyes and voices: The entries in the protagonist’s
journal are interspersed with her probation officer’s reports,
letters to and from various characters as well as the dialogues
Verity has with other characters. Some of these voices are
enlightening, some confusing but that is the nature of any society
and this small Texan town is indeed a world apart from the more urban
Verity had experienced before a flat tire got her stuck in the middle of an alien place. Her inability to figure out how to use the jack in the trunk to extricate herself from her predicament lands her in court on trumped up charges of drunk driving and thence to a year’s probation without permission to leave Vacuum County and the need to work as a waitress to pay her fees before she is taken in by the strangely arrogant Nabal Cabeza de Vaca (whose failure to help her with the flat tire in the first place led to this predicament). Thus does she become witness to the tangled political and family associations that involve corruption, adultery, and murder. In an odd way, she does feel love for Nabal, himself enslaved by his family history and painful childhood, and ultimately he does reciprocate in his own strange way but this is not a love story, this is a story of age old conflicts among men who battle openly or surreptitiously for land, power and glory and the women who help, hinder, love or betray them.
Read this book when you have plenty of time to devote to the reading (425 pages) and to the pondering it inspires, because this is a book that will force you to think long and hard about the nature of human history.
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