Manuel Muñoz's dazzling second collection finds the author returning, once again, to the small towns of California's Central Valley. Set in a neighborhood with characters whose lives often intersect with each other, The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue offers ten stories about a wide range of lives: a mother coping with a mortally injured son after his motorcycle accident; a single father returning from San Francisco and attempting a reconciliation with an estranged sister; a young woman trying to provide safe haven to her cousin fleeing a vicious boyfriend; and a teenager who sees himself in the trials of the town's most-gossiped-about resident. How these characters cross paths reveal a neighborhood shaped by misunderstandings and long-held secrets, and show how a community can be both embracing and unforgiving, revealing a truth about the nature of home: you always live with its history.
Stories from The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue were previously published in Epoch, Glimmer Train (marking Manuel's third appearance in this literary journal), Rush Hour, and Swink. His work has appeared in many other journals, including The Massachusetts Review, The Colorado Review, Boston Review, and Puerto del Sol, and has also been broadcast on National Public Radio's Selected Shorts.
‘Moving and tender. . . Muñoz writes elegantly and sympathetically. . .a softly glowing, melancholy beauty that. . .makes [his stories] universal.’ —New York Times Book Review
‘Ten superbly grounded stories. . . Fine storytelling that achieves universality while remaining rooted in a particular time and place.’ —Kirkus Review (starred)
‘Almost a novel in stories. . . all of Muñoz's stories evoke melancholy with a slow burn.’ —Time Out Chicago
‘Muñoz writes with restraint and without pretension, giving fearless voice to personal tragedies.’ —Publishers Weekly
‘With the publication of his second collection, Manuel Muñoz establishes himself as one of the best short-story writers. . . These stories are provocative, soulful, and revelatory.’ —El Paso Times
‘Each [story] lingers, staying with you like memories stirred from the scent in a lost loved one's shirt. . . In a word, it's exquisite.’ —Austin Chronicle