“The Boundaries of Their Dwelling” by Blake Sanz        

The Boundaries of Their Dwelling by Blake Sanz is an assortment of fiction short stories of high literary quality, with impressive details and imagery. The stories take place between Mexico, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. The author is a master at fleshing out characters and effective in pulling and moving the hearts of his audience with both suspense and occasional humor.

When Emi and Frida travel from Mexico City to Miami on a “Jerry Springer-style Spanish language show,” the two are stark opposites. Frida is lively, outgoing, and courageous, while Emi is quiet and hesitant. However, Emi comes into her own with spunk and finds her voice to defend Frida. These characters are both a force and fortress together in the introductory story, “Hablamos!”

“Hurricane Gothic” demonstrates mastery with the author’s ability to conjure up literal logs in Ben’s path, to include his son, Judah, who manages to get into hot water at every turn. A man who experiences the plague of repeated disasters to his home, Ben obsesses with every tool, process, and bit of material for a rebuild. His harrowing journey, coupled with depression, lands him in a psychiatrist’s office, not answering her question about suicide, but noticing the wood on her desk isn’t level.

Although the details tell so much more in “The Laurel Wreath,” Darby opens a bar in the house his mother leaves him after he finds her dead in the living room and discovers his inheritance. Born of a father who drinks cheap beer with friends, eventually abandoning their family, and a mother who becomes a minister, St. Amelie’s new bar owner prides his own “instinct for interacting with characters on the edge.”

In another short story, Hans-George observes the poster of “Big Bad Nurse and the Hearses!” on an advertising poster for the Mermaid Lounge, with characters he thinks represent them standing beside it. Plus, he witnesses a multitude of sights in New Orleans he deems crazy and frivolous. The reader can almost hear him gasping for breath as he rushes to tell his girlfriend, Milena, about each occurrence as it takes place. The exposures he is up in arms about, however, seems to awaken something within him in “Oh, But to Be a Hearse!”

Finally, “How to Live Domestically as an Artist” is about a character living on the edge with a woman, who has a .44 locked in her drawer. This is just a fragment. There are sixteen stories in all.

Blake Sanz

Blake Sanz says in the Acknowledgements section that the book is twenty years in the making. This is his first book. I have no doubt many are going to be clamoring to read more of his work. The stories in The Boundaries of Their Dwelling are touching, realistic and poignant. Open the book and come along with people and their families or their absent families, many wavering between new places, old places, and the boundaries of what they want to call home. Blake Sanz takes you there. You feel it. You are on the ride before you know it.



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