The best books released this week

“These are wonderfully unpredictable stories, rooted in the tongue-in-cheek prose of Fernando A. Flores and his sure navigation through those overlapping territories, the real and the fantastic, where so much of the best contemporary fiction lives today. .” ―Kelly Link, author of To have troubles

Psychedelic and dazzling stories set in the cracks of the Texas-Mexico border, from an iconoclastic storyteller and author of The tears of the truffle pig.

No one captures the frontier—its history and its imagination, its danger, its contradiction, and its redemption—like Fernando A. Flores, whose stories reimagine and reinterpret the region’s existence with unparalleled style. In its immersive and eerie frontier, things are never what they seem: a world where the sun rises and sets, and conniving opossums effectively take over an entire city and rewrite its history.

The stories in Valleyesque dance between the fantastic and the hyperreal with a skilful, often hilarious flair. A dying Frederic Chopin stumbles through Ciudad Juárez following the death of his mother, trying to retrieve his beloved piano which was seized at the border, while a muralist is taken on a psychedelic journey by a T-shirt Emiliano Zapata painted with airbrush. A woman is swallowed up by a warehouse of used clothes with a life of its own, and a grieving mother breathlessly recounts the demise of a city decimated by violence. In two separate stories, the queso dip and musical beats are bottled and sold for mass consumption. And in the final tale, Flores reenacts the adventures of a young Lee Harvey Oswald as he embarks on a musical career in Texas.

Oscillating between satire and surrealism, sorrow and joy, Valleyesque is a collection that pushes the boundaries and pushes the boundaries of a unique stylist and voice. With the visceral imagination that made her first novel, The tears of the truffle pigA cult classic, Flores brings his vision of the frontier―and beyond to life.

Reasons to read it: For a collection of stories set along the Texas-Mexico border that are steeped in magical realism. This collection is set in the same universe as the author’s other writings, and is just as bizarre and funny. Flores will take you on a surreal ride along the frontier that involves all of its familiar sociopolitical trappings, but also experiments with and expands on them, reimagining them in a different light.