Healey, Trebor. “Falling”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2019.
I Would Have Expected As Much
There are several authors that I always look forward to reading and high on that list is Trebor Healey. Whether he writes poetry, novels and short stories, he never disappoints. “Falling”, his new collection of ten stories is a look at the “dangers of populism and the growing world refugee crisis.” I have always been aware of his love for the Spanish speaking world and that is very evident in the stories of this collection and there was times that I felt that he is a one man broker between the two worlds, that are, in a sense one big world really only separated by language.
Healey sets this tales mainly in Latin America and the western U.S. and they deal with major issues from immigration to the sense of not finding a place in the world today. He also tackles cultural upheaval, history and politics. I will go a step further and say that these are stories of redemption and transformation and not just for the characters we read about but for the readers as well. I believe that the idea of transformation is evident in all of Healey’s writing. After all, if reading something does nothing to and for us, why bother doing so at all?
Healey is also educative as we see in “The Orchid”, the longest story here. Set in Argentina, this is also a look at the political history and reads like a politician admitting to bringing a new kind of government in the form of a subset of Peronism and coming through a gay presidential candidate. The characters here, as in every story, are very real and I could not help thinking that they were based upon Healey’s many Latin American friends.
The theme of self-acceptance is also evident as is the definition of family. We read of tragedy and of hope. I found myself easily empathizing with many of the characters and this surprised me in that the only affinity I have for the Latin American world is that I studied Spanish in high school and I have a few Latin American friends and oh yes, as a graduate student I took a semester course in Latin American history because I was secretly in love with the professor (nothing came out of that).
I don’t want to write about each story and that is because I want you to discover them yourselves without any ideas I might accidentally throw out but I do think that it is fair to say that Healey’s use of imagination give us new ways to understand our brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere and how history has influenced the way they live. There is also something magical in that these stories will also influence the way we live. I often compare reading Trebor Healey to being on a cruise to places I have never been. When I disembark, I feel wiser and better about myself and about life.