This novel is a mythological saga about Flaco Salvador Cascabel Natividad, a native of Chimayo, New Mexico, and an alcoholic. Benito Cordova follows Salvador through situations and encounters that expose his vulnerabilities in light of his community's expectations and standards of masculinity. At various times Salvador is an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a patient at the Embudo Rehabilitation Center, and a contracted worker for Abiquiu artist Georgia O'Keeffe. In an alcohol-induced moment, Salvador offers to substitute for the groom, his friend, at a wedding because the real husband-to-be is so drunk he can't stand up. However, the ceremony is all too real and Salvador is accidentally married to his friend's intended bride. At a significant moment in the story, Salvador is hauling wood in a snowstorm from the nearby mountains when he is pinned by a falling tree. Night is approaching, it is getting colder, and, as Salvador lies trapped under the tree, he begins to envision his own death, funeral, and burial in terms of how he has lived his life.
He sees the failure of his marriage, which ended shortly after it began in an alcohol haze, and he is tortured by his personal demons concerning his identity as a Genizaro, a Hispanicised Indian. Salvador's story is a blend of humour and tragedy that exemplifies today's rural New Mexico.
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press