Recently, having made a decision to read some books of short stories rather than novels, I stumbled upon, at a local public library, a book listed as “new” entitled Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club. From this book’s blurb I saw that the setting for the stories is the border between the U.S. and Mexico at the cities of El Paso and Juarez. The Kentucky Club is a bar just over the border in Juarez, Mexico. The author is someone named Benjamin Alire Saenz, a name that I didn’t recognize.
I just finished the book and its stories. While at some points I did cry, the stories aren’t overly sad. Each story’s main character is male and many of them gay. This is not to say the women in these stories are ignored; some of the women portrayed are perhaps more memorable than the men. Family relationships are strongly depicted as are love relationships. While homosexual relationships are an overarching theme, the stories are in no way sensational or lurid. Instead it is the love that the characters are seeking or running from or unable to acknowledge that predominates.
While looking for other books by this author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, it turns out that he won a major literary honor (the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction) this year for this book of stories. For some reason I thought the person writing these stories was a young new writer, and it turns out Mr. Saenz is middle-aged and heads up a creative writing department at the University of Texas at El Paso. Kudos to him for this award and for this moving book of short stories!