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IN THE DESERT WE DO NOT COUNT...

IN THE DESERT WE DO NOT COUNT THE DAYS by John Brandi (Holy Cow! Press/Talman: $10.95, illustrated). In this collection of brief stories and sketches, Brandi writes with almost tangible urgency about the Southwestern deserts of America. He looks beyond the romanticized visions of the Old West and records how this unforgiving environment affects the men and women who choose to live there: “There was no archetypical coyote yodel or anything ‘western’ like jangling spurs or horse-clop or buckboard squeak. Instead, there was a background of diesel locomotives on the Southern Pacific tracks and tank trucks thundering down the line toward Pecos, Texas.” Brandi’s grizzled characters initially seem hard-bitten and shallow, because they refuse to share their wisdom with outsiders. The harsh winds have scoured away their superficial features, leaving only the resistant core of harder substance, like the sculpted archways of their desert homes. The title story depicts a Chicano ceramist who refuses to cash in on the growing reputation of his hand-thrown pots: “Collectors . . . don’t know that the time I lose on my crops and the money I make off my commissions buys food that doesn’t fill me up like the food I grow myself. And I have to be stubborn about all this. I don’t make a satisfactory pot on a dissatisfied stomach.”


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