SUB­TEXTS

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS - — Jen­nifer Levin

Miriam Sa­gan, founder and di­rec­tor of the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram at Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege, known mostly for her many books of po­etry, in­clud­ing Rag Trade and Seven Places in Amer­ica: A Poetic So­journ, has writ­ten a literary psy­che­delic thriller set in the late 1960s, Black Rain­bow (Sher­man Asher Pub­lish­ing, 2015). In the slim, 166-page vol­ume, Sa­gan takes us on a jour­ney from New Jersey to New York to New Mexico with Ra­nia, a fif­teen-year-old fledg­ling mem­ber of the anti-war coun­ter­cul­ture who feels sti­fled by subur­bia. Prod­ded by her re­bel­lious new best friend, Monique, she be­gins to pur­sue her vi­o­lent ori­gins: She was born by force, cut out of her mother’s ab­domen by a de­ranged woman named Mary Rose, whose story is told in al­ter­nat­ing chap­ters with Ra­nia’s. The friend­ship be­tween Ra­nia and Monique, as fleet­ing as it is, feels au­then­tic, as the girls experiment with boys and drugs, and ex­plore the un­der­world of New York City’s East Vil­lage. Mary Rose dis­cov­ers her pur­pose — be­yond that of be­ing a mother — at a Chris­tian monastery and even­tu­ally in a soli­tary life in the vil­lage of Pi­lar, New Mexico. Sa­gan reads from Black Rain­bow at 6 p.m. on Fri­day, Oct. 16, at Col­lected Works Book­store (202 Gal­is­teo St., 505-988-4226).

Another new book set in New Mexico is Bread of the Dead, by Ann My­ers (Wil­liam Mor­row/HarperCollins, 2015). It’s part of a se­ries of Santa Fe Café mys­ter­ies, set dur­ing Day of the Dead, about a cou­ple of bak­ers turned am­a­teur sleuths. Bread of the Dead is a “cozy mys­tery,” a G-rated sub­genre in which the sleuths, of­ten el­derly or mid­dle-aged women who run teashops or bak­eries, solve crimes in a small town. In this case, nosy older ladies, de­vi­ous maids, and hand­some ranch­ers all fig­ure into the plot. Though My­ers’ au­thor bio claims a deep affin­ity for the City Dif­fer­ent — which im­plies fa­mil­iar­ity with the lo­cal cui­sine — some odd de­ci­sions were made about how to deal with com­monly heard Span­ish food names. Some­times “chile” ap­pears as “chili,” and though ital­ics were not ap­plied to “en­chi­lada” or “tamale,” they were ap­plied to “Frito” in “Frito pie.” Re­gard­less, pro­tag­o­nist Rita Lafitte is on the case of her re­cently de­ceased land­lord, track­ing clues and dis­cov­er­ing buried se­crets.

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