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Truong, continued from page 34 to absences.” Capitalizing on her literary and word-conscious milieu, Truong draws some lovely parallels between Binh and his employers, reminding us that they all share the fact of being expatriots. Like Binh, GertrudeStein \(“Always, `GertrudeStein: Just think of it as one word,” Binh is advised when he goes facility in French and takes an amused interest in Binh’s use of language. \(He is fond of using the negative”a pear, not while a rose is a rose is a rose, an expatriate is not an expatriate is not an expatriate. Because of their differences in race and “GertrudeStein” differ enormously in their status as expatriatesas Truong deftly indicates. Through the examination of the master-servant dynamic that permeates this tly brings to light the colonialism and racism \(and to a lesser extent, homophowish to be seen as “just a man.” In the eyes of the larger colonial world around him, his status as “Indochinese” trumps any other details of his life that might be relevant to who he is:”To them, my body offers an exacting, predetermined life story” Binh projects this desire to be recognized as “a whole man” onto the overarching fantasy controlling his geographical and psychological trajectory. His need for acceptance translates into his search for a “scholar prince”the learned, gentle, and handsome man who will someday swoop into his life and save him from the drudgery and loneliness of his exiled, marginalized self. Binh repeatedly and knowingly deceives himself about the men he encounters.Yet he remains grounded and confident in his awareness of that deception, as well as in his consciousness of who and what he is, whether an “asiatique” in Paris or a gay man in a world favoring heterosexuality. His search for love \(acceptance, for place and recalls the ideaparticularly palpable to the expatriate, the dislocated, the exilethat in the end home is defined by love, not by geography. Truong understands this and handles the questions of “what made you leave?” and “what makes you stay?” with a rare depth and honesty, reminding us that there is never just one answer to either question and that they are both ultimately awash in the ever-shifting, uncertain impulse of life itself. Lee Middleton is a fiction writer finishing her MA in creative writing at the University of Texas-Austin. “Brownsville,” continued from page 35 Domingo, adds spicy mustard that hurts his stomach to the sandwiches, and arrives so late to pick him up for work that the day is already hot. She has no idea that, as Domingo goes about his work, his soul is cleft by remorse. Brownsville is divided into three sections. Just as with a three-act play, the first two build up tension, while the last section offers a measure of relief sometimes comic, sometimes erotic. “Don’t believe anything he tells you:’ narrator George Fuentes warns us about his cousin Jerry, the quintessential salesman who calls everybody “primo,” or cousin. When Jerry asks if George ever thinks about the future, we know right off the bat “he didn’t come over to compare horoscopes.” From the beginning of “Jerry Fuentes,” it’s apparent that George will end up caving in to Jerry’s nefarious persuasive techniques. But watching it all happen is still great fun. In “Yolanda,” an unhappily married 36year-old man fantasizes as he lies in bed next to his sleeping wife. He remembers the summer when he was 12 and the beautiful Yolanda moved into the house next door with her possessive husband, Frank. Through his bedroom window, the boy could hear everything they said and did. Years later he recalls Yolanda’s growing independence, Frank’s increasing abuse, and his own hopeless crush on the young woman, thoroughly convincing us of Frank’s evil nature and Yolanda’s inherent innocence or so it seems. Finally, Casares ends on an optimistic note with “Mrs. Perez.” Lolaor Mrs. Perezis a woman who finally finds her place in the sun by becoming a champion league bowler after the death of her miserly and restrictive husband, Agustin. He was so cheap that he haggles with an indigent Monterrey photographer over the price of their honeymoon portrait. As Casares wryly describes the much younger Lola in the photograph, “She wore the nervous smile of a young woman who has just realized that she’s boarded the wrong train.” Throughout Brownsville Casares’ frequent uses of short Spanish phrases without differentiating them by italics or quotation marks appears natural; it’s simply the way his characters use language.The context is such that nonSpanish-speaking readers will always get the gist of the meaning. After all, that’s the way the real Brownsville sounds and while comparisons to EudoraWelty may be premature, Oscar Casares has definitely created a place where idiosyncrasy reigns supreme and human relationships are infinitely complex. Sandra Spicher is a recent Michener Fellow, writer, and translator from Lago Vista who has studied machismo extensively, if not academically. 8/1/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 41