Parrot in the Oven

by Victor Martinez Year Published:

Set in a dusty California town, Martinez employs a series of compelling, frequently troubling vignettes to illuminate a Mexican American boy's coming of age. It's not easy for Manuel Hernandez to discover his place in the world, especially when he is constantly bombarded with the hardships of his poor and woefully dysfunctional family. Their tiny sheetrock house in the projects is the scene of angry arguments-even of threats at rifle point. Manny steps onto a battlefield at every turn, whether he is collecting his alcoholic and violent father from the local pool hall, withstanding the ethnic slurs of white school mates, or seeking initiation into a neighborhood gang.