Steven Torres' serious, funny short stories
His saving graces were considerable intelligence and a bracing questioning of our industry's orthodoxy at a time when diversity was a corporate buzzword. He dismissed the Miami Herald's Spanish-language edition, for example, insisting that Latinos in the United States wanted to read and speak English.
I thought of this when reading one of Steven Torres' stories about Ray Cruz, the most dangerous man in New York City:
"The man holding Carver thought for a second, then started shouting in Italian again.
"`Speak English, maricon!' Ray roared. At the same time he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the gunman’s right shoulder. He let go of Carver and went from crouching to sitting, and Ray Cruz took a step closer, put another bullet in the man’s chest, six inches below his chin."That's humor about which could write a paper or at least rub one's chin thoughtfully after one got done laughing.
Another thing I like is Torres' juxtaposition of stories about Ray Cruz with others about a counterpart named Viktor Petrenko. Without providing too much of a spoiler, I'll say I read each as the flip side of the other, or else as contrasting perspectives on the moral destiny of men who do bad things.
(No, Torres says, he did not know when he wrote the Petrenko stories that there was a celebrated figure skater of the same name. There are no double Salchows or triple Axels in these stories, and the protagonist's landings are anything but smooth.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2012