By Jay Parini
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New York: Viking, 1993. The Tortilla Curtain. New York: Viking, 1995. Riven Rock. New York: Viking, 1998. A Friend of the Earth. New York: Viking, 2000. 31 T. ” Studies in Short Fiction 31, no. 2:247–256 (spring 1994). Drop City. New York: Viking, 2003. The Inner Circle. New York: Viking, 2004. Talk Talk. New York: Viking, 2006. The Women. New York: Viking, 2009. INTERVIEWS Adams, Elizabeth. “An Interview with T. ” Chicago Review 37, no. 2/3:51–63 (1991). Ermelino, Louisa. ” Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2006, pp.
Readerly sympathy for Candido is likely to be mixed with horror, and the same is true for different reasons of Delaney, who is transformed from a champion of liberal causes to a paranoid vigilante. The event that catalyzes Delaney’s change is not necessarily his car accident, but rather the intrusion of coyotes into his suburban development. Coyotes devour Delaney’s two dogs, and in both cases Delaney witnesses the attack yet is powerless to do anything about it. The coyotes are clearly analogous to the intruding Mexican immigrants, and the coyotes’ predatory violence stuns Delaney into a new consciousness.
The story raises a number of ethical dilemmas without providing any clues as to how to resolve them. The title itself is double-edged, referring to Charles Darwin’s famous study and to a moral descent of humanity that involves our species’ troubled relationship with the natural world above which we have supposedly evolved. Literature, science, and haute cuisine are revealed to be pursuits fraught with contradictions rather than the grand achievements we believe them to be. Virtually all of the stories in Descent of Man are as playful and comic as its title story.
American Writers, Supplement XX by Jay Parini