A Good Map of All Things
A Picaresque Novel
In Alberto Álvaro Ríos’s new picaresque novel, momentous adventure and quiet connection brings twenty people to life in a small town in northern Mexico. A Good Map of All Things is home to characters whose lives are interwoven but whose stories are their own, adding warmth and humor to this continually surprising communal narrative. The stories take place in the mid-twentieth century, in the high desert near the border—a stretch of land generally referred to as the Pimería Alta—an ancient passage through the desert that connected the territory of Tucson in the north and Guaymas and Hermosillo in the south. The United States is off in the distance, a little difficult to see, and, in the middle of the century, not the only thing to think about. Mexico City is somewhere to the south, but nobody can say where and nobody has ever seen it.
Ríos has created a whimsical yet familiar town, where brightly unique characters love fiercely and nurture those around them. The people in A Good Map of All Things have secrets and fears, successes and happiness, winters and summers. They are people who do not make the news, but who are living their lives for the long haul, without lotteries or easy answers or particular luck. Theirs is the everyday, with its small but meaningful joy. Whether your heart belongs to a small town in Mexico or a bustling metropolis, Alberto Álvaro Ríos has crafted a book that is overflowing with comfort, warmth, and the familiar embrace of a tightly woven community.
A finalist for the National Book Award and the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, Alberto Álvaro Ríos has taught at Arizona State University since 1982. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate, a recent chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Ríos’s latest collection of poems is Not Go Away Is My Name, preceded by A Small Story About the Sky, The Dangerous Shirt, and The Theater of Night, winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award.
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