Tony Ardizzone   Tony Ardizzone Home


The Calling of Saint Matthew

The Whale Chaser

The Habit of Art

In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu

Taking It Home

Larabi's Ox

The Evening News

Heart of the Order

In the Name of the Father

Biography of Tony Ardizzone


Larabi's Ox

Larabi's Ox

Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, the Friends of Literature's Chicago Foundation Award for Fiction, the Pushcart Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction

Milkweed Editions is proud to announce the publication of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco by Tony Ardizzone, the winner of the 1992 Milkweed National Fiction Prize. Gloria Naylor, author of The Women of Brewster Place, Bailey's Cafe, and Mama Day, acted as competition judge and has written the foreword.

Larabi's Ox is a tapestry of interwoven stories that relates the tales of three Americans visiting Morocco for the first time. Sarah Rosen, traveling alone, is running away from a failed relationship; Peter Corvino, an American professor, is escaping from his own mediocrity; Henry Goodson is running toward his impending death from cancer. Morocco is strange, mysterious, colorful; the clash and interconnection between these travelers and the Islamic culture are the fabric of the collection.

"Larabi's Ox offers what the best fiction does: the felt human landscape with its terrifying heights and abysses; its oddly shaped and jarring strangeness; the awed realization on your part that, against all rhythm and reason, the artist has taken you home." -- Gloria Naylor

"Larabi's Ox places Tony Ardizzone in our first rank of story writers. His range is wide enough to embrace man and beast, infidel and Muslim, the fallen and the saved; his empathy is such that he immediately makes compelling any character that appears. These are wise stories, memorably told, beautifully written." -- W. D. Wetherell

"Ardizzone has gone into an alien land, taken it on its own terms, and captured the essence of the place -- the smells, the rhythms, the colors, the philosophy. Some writers deal with the foreign by making it familiar; Ardizzone has somehow kept it foreign, and so allows us to see what connects and what doesn't. When he's done, the place is at it is -- it is we who are different." -- David Bradley

"Vibrant, absorbing, and ingenious as a fine collage, Larabi's Ox is a collection of superb stories, and far more. Tony Ardizzone's stunning portrait of Morocco is a grave and intricate riddle whose answers reveal the soul of human striving. Look into these memorable characters and you will encounter your essential self." -- Susan Dodd

"Who we aren't is as meaningful as who we are, and this is why I place a high value on stories like Larabi's Ox, and storytellers like Tony Ardizzone, who writes with a poet's questioning eye, tracing the whorls of dangerous beauty in the fingerprints of a faraway world where, unexpectedly, we are offered the keys to our selves." -- Bob Shacochis

Milkweed Editions press release

Jacket illustration and design by Allan Servoss

Milkweed Editions * September 1992 * ISBN 0-915943-72-7


High Plains Literary Review review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Uprooting Us and Bringing Us Home," copyright © 1993 by High Plains Literary Review, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 1993. Reviewed by Carol LeMasters.

In the Western World, few cultures have been so misunderstood as those of the Middle East. All the more important, then, that there should appear a beautiful and riveting collection such as Larabi's Ox, with the power to dispel ignorance while telling stories that are moving, compassionate, and life-affirming. Without condescension or prejudice, Ardizzone brilliantly explores the rich history, the deep-rooted traditions, the magic, and the cultural intricacies of Morocco, long considered the most "enlightened" of Middle Eastern countries.

In Larabi's Ox, Ardizzone skillfully interweaves the stories of three Americans who, in the midst of personal crisis, come to Morocco and are irrevocably changed. There is Peter, a cynical, self-loathing academic, tormented by a sense of failure in his personal and professional lives. He finds the Middle East callous, but perhaps no more so than academia, where he's learned to expect "the kiss on the cheek, the knife in the back." There is Sarah, who, upon ending a bad love affair, decides to come to the Middle East to prove to herself that she can. A woman in a man's world, Jewish in an Arab nation, Sarah proves in many ways the most romantic and the most courageous of the three. Finally, there's cancer-stricken Henry, starved for affection, desperate for meaning, determined not to die as passively as he lived.

From these disparate lives Ardizzone spins a narrative of amazing transformative power. He does so through immersing us in the smells, sounds, colors, and shapes of markets and mosques, gently unraveling our defenses and disarming our prejudices through descriptions that are pure poetry. An incredibly sensual writer, Ardizzone seduces us through sheer eloquence into a world of unimaginable spiritual depths. Yet never does he use Morocco as a mere exotic backdrop for an interesting story line. A blend of Berber, Arab, and European influences Morocco remains a unique mixture of East and West, innovation and tradition, compassion and cruelty. Yet the reality is more subtle than that, more elusive. In the words of one Moroccan intellectual:

"'Pick up any book. It [Morocco] is the land of contrasts where the ancient -- that is the quaint, the backward, oppressive -- exists side by side with the modern -- or shall we say, European, particularly French. Neither image is complimentary, you understand. What they miss is the real Morocco that lies between.'"

Ardizzone displays a profound sensitivity to the interconnections and to the differences -- as essential a basis for dialogue between nations as between individuals. In these tales, we encounter a people who, like the rest of us, drink, make love, make art, raise families, pray, celebrate, and grieve. But differences exist too, ancient and deep. To his credit, Ardizzone never shies away from depicting the worst of Moroccan society: its callousness, its poverty, its narrowness, its brutality toward women.

The best, however, lies in a spiritual vision sorely lacking in the West. The Moroccans of these tales live in a multidimensional universe in which visible and invisible freely mingle, a world in which there are no accidents and in which the most insignificant event takes on cosmic meaning. Their unshakable faith in fate -- maktub -- profoundly shapes the culture, leading less to resignation than to a deep sense of purpose. Ardizzone presents us with a passionate people, steeped in tradition and deeply ambivalent about the West, envying its technology, military strength, and high standard of living while sensing the emptiness beneath.

This ambivalence is epitomized in the Moroccan student, Ahmed, who befriends Henry and in whom Eastern and Western forces intersect. Deeply drawn to America -- the luxurious land of James Dean, beautiful women, and plentiful jobs -- Ahmed yet dreads becoming like the tourists he guides daily:

". . . Westerners mainly believed in what their senses could perceive. They valued the visible so highly they liked to take photographs of all the physical things standing before them. Rather than come to Morocco and try to know it, to feel the rhythms and repetitions of its ordinary life, to hear the silence of its art and architecture, to understand its search for patterns, variations, repetitions, most Westerners seemed to prefer only to photograph their presence there, as if posing before a ruin with a grin on one's face were sufficient reason to make the long journey across the ocean."

The most remarkable scenes are those in which Ardizzone succeeds in capturing the specific strengths and weaknesses of both cultures simultaneously. One such example is the haunting story, "The Whore of Fez el Bali," in which Sarah, breaking with the endless humiliations she is forced to endure as a woman, explodes in violence at a young street boy who insults her and thus inadvertently causes his beating by onlookers. Carefully avoiding easy judgments, Ardizzone creates a deeply disturbing story, morally ambiguous, evoking intense contradictory emotions. It is a tribute to Ardizzone's artistry that he can so compassionately embrace both Sarah's rage and the boy's tragedy, calling into question all simple distinctions between victim and victimizer, privileged and oppressed.

Minor flaws exist. It is no accident, I think, that our one truly sexual character is female. Romance appears central to Sarah's evolution in a way not demanded of Ardizzone's male characters. Nevertheless, Ardizzone succeeds, for a time, in taking us out of ourselves, enabling us to see not only Moroccans in a new perspective but ourselves as well. When all is said and done, it is the images that remain: Peter clasping the cripples, Henry dying in the desert, unexpected moments of grace, peace painfully won. Once having surrendered to these tales, it is not possible to emerge intact, so that these are not simply tales of others' transformations but a means to our own.

Chicago Tribune review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
"A Trio of Americans Penetrates Morocco," copyright © 1992 by Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1992. Reviewed by James Park Sloan.

Tony Ardizzone's second volume of short fiction (the first, The Evening News, won the Flannery O'Connor Award) is an interwoven sequence of stories chronicling the experience of three American travelers on a first visit to contemporary Morocco. While each is strikingly different (a young woman fleeing an unhappy relationship, a middle-age academic coming to terms with divorce and a mediocre career, and a man dying of cancer pursuing a meaningful death), the three are part of a pilgrim's progress whose encounter with poverty, disease and alien custom is the vehicle for an inner journey.

The title story briefly introduces them while adumbrating one of the collection's major themes: the submission to "God's will," as echoed in the incantatory Arabic phrase "insha'Allah" (God willing). A tour de force of multiple points of view, the story recounts in flashback a collision between a shuttle bus from the Casablanca airport and a poor farmer's ox.

The driver, fearing for his job, blames the "stupid beast" that did not run from the bus as it should have, and rails about the fat American taking pictures. A small boy, often scolded for daydreaming and for spilling the canister of goat's milk he pushes in a wheelbarrow, suffers guilt in the belief that his secret wish for the accident caused it. The picture-taker, Henry Goodson, presses a hand to his cancerous stomach and speculates on the feelings of the ox as an image of humankind, Moroccan and American, to whom things simply happen.

Yet human beings are not oxen, nor is the submission to "God's will," maddening at first to Westerners, altogether passive. In "The Beggars," Peter Corvino, who had been rootless in his own country, nevertheless suffers pangs of homesickness. (Ordering beer and peanuts at a hotel, he receives beer and olives -- a metaphor for his whole failed effort to translate the familiar into Moroccan terms.) Warned against beggars, his gift of two coins to a poor woman indirectly makes it possible for him to stay in Morocco and begin a journey toward self-acceptance.

In "Exchange," Corvino visits the home of his Moroccan counterpart and commits a series of gaffes. He chooses Vivaldi over Moroccan folk music and fails to recognize, at first, a map in which Morocco occupies the northern, or "superior," position and Europe the "inferior" south. But emboldened by his hosts' differing views on travel to America, he tells them the story of his failed marriage and career, taking a first step toward exorcising the pain.

In "The Unfinished Minaret," Henry Goodson violates the prohibition on entering a mosque and misses the moment when the dying sunlight strikes a minaret. It is not, however, mere touristic vulgarity, but his illness that puts him outside custom and culture.

Goodson resists integration, wisecracking to the end in idioms that his Moroccan guide, Ahmed, cannot understand. Death remains problematically solitary, but his very aloneness compels Ahmed to reach out and bring the American to his home village, then on to the edge of the desert -- where, no longer a slave to his camera, he can be a participant in his own death.

Sarah Rosen carries the burden of proving that she can survive in Morocco without a man. "In the Garden of the Djinn" and "The Whore of Fez el Bali" exhibit her resourcefulness in traveling as a woman and a Jew without abandoning her compassion.

Superficially an innocent, Sarah shows surprising sophistication. She knows her lover would be different in America, she says, because "I'm not the same person here."

Full of masterly writing and teeming with ordinary Moroccan life, this is travel literature of a high order. While the stories were published separately, in small literary journals, the volume feels much like a novel, with only occasional lapses into repetitious exposition.

In the final episode, "The Baraka of Beggars and Kings," Corvino who gestured for peanuts and got olives, has learned enough to bargain successfully for a rug. Losing the rug in a stunning reversal, he must then demonstrate his mastery of Moroccan psychology and idiom in order to regain it. In doing so, he receives the unstated goal of each traveler, a baraka, or blessing, and with it the peace of willed submission, expressed in his comfortable use of the Arabic "insha'Allah."

San Francisco Chronicle review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Moments of Truth in Morocco," copyright © 1992 by San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 1992. Reviewed by William Rodarmor.

The essence of Morocco penetrates the stories in Tony Ardizzone's fine new collection the way desert sand sifts under doors and past windows.

The events in the fourteen short stories of Larabi's Ox are intertwined; characters appear in each other's stories, sometimes at center stage, sometimes as footnotes. Set against the backdrop of the coast and desert cities of Morocco, the result is an intriguing, beautifully crafted exploration of the human heart.

Ardizzone shows us this marble-and-sand country through three lenses, the eyes of the three main characters in the book. All Americans and all visiting Morocco for the first time, they are distinctive in the varying ways they let themselves sink into the country.

Sarah Rosen, who is running away from a man, and briefly finds another, plays with surfaces.

A more intellectual seeker is Peter Corvino, a failed academic who begins to absorb and love a culture far different from the one he left behind.

But the most interesting is Henry Goodson, who is dying of cancer and looking, almost at random, for a place to die. In the beginning he keeps his distance by constantly taking pictures; in the end he is thigh-deep in a sand dune, having sunk into Morocco's very soil.

What Morocco offers all three is a culture made up of as many elements as a fine Fassi carpet has knots, where Islamic hospitality and fatality go hand in hand.

Ardizzone knows Morocco well. Like one of his characters, he taught at Mohammed V University in Rabat in 1985, as part of a program funded by the U. S. Information Agency. He now teaches at Indiana University and Vermont College.

Like a good teacher, he learned as much as he taught. In Larabi's Ox, the result feels like experience earned, the ability to know a place from the inside and describe it through the eyes of a visitor.

With the dying Henry Goodson, Ardizzone takes us north to the imperial cities of Meknès and Fez, back to Rabat, then through bustling Casablanca and the lovely walled town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast to the dreamy pink spectacle of Marrakesh and beyond to the desert, where a restless Henry finally finds rest in the dunes of the Sahara.

"The next day," he writes, "they drove to Tiffoultoute and then Alt Benhaddou to see their magnificent casbahs. They were the stuff of children's dreams, these mud-brown castles that loomed suddenly on the horizon like something out of a fairy tale."

But Larabi's Ox is no travelogue. The stories are enriched by Morocco's exoticism, not overwhelmed by it. And they are full of twists and turns, as full of surprises as an alley running through the heart of the medina. No sooner does Peter the professor enjoy a moment of triumph after successfully bargaining for a magnificent carpet than it's snatched from him, then magically returned, made richer by an improbable blessing from Morocco's king.

Ardizzone writes like a poet, with a gift for capturing moments in perfect elegant images, but without slowing his plots. For example, when some boys speak to Peter Corvino in French, Ardizzone writes, "his tongue answered in French, though like legs unused to shoes, he'd trip after the first few sentences."

Or as Sarah Rosen goes walking with a dazzling young man, Ramzi: "Swallows swung out from pits in the red walls, looping in the air and then returning in dark flurries to where they began. . . . Sarah listened to only to the sound of his voice, which. . . like the birds, made little forays into the air and then returned to silence." Later, when Sarah and Ramzi make love, "his bones locked with hers like the wooden blocks of a puzzle she'd owned when she was a child."

Henry is asked by his Moroccan hosts: "'Mnin gi ti?' Where do you come from?

"'Fin rha di?' Where are you going?

"'Ash brhi ti?' What do you want?"

These are ancient questions, probably the only ones that really matter. In Larabi's Ox, Ardizzone weaves their elements of past and future into a compelling present. And like pebbles tossed into a pond, the questions send slow ripples spreading beyond the pages of his book.

New York Times Book Review review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
"They're Morocco Bound," copyright © 1992 by New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1992. Reviewed by Margot Mifflin.

Tony Ardizzone achieves an intriguingly prismatic effect in his second collection of short fiction, Larabi's Ox, by tracking three Americans traveling simultaneously but independently in Morocco. Each of the main characters who figure in these 14 stories visits North Africa for a different reason. For Peter Corvino, the trip is a respite from the monotony of tenure-track academia; for Sarah Rosen, it's a test of her self-sufficiency after a failed romance; and for the cancer-afflicted Henry Goodson, Morocco is a place to die. Although they share a bus ride in the title story, the three never meet.

Mr. Ardizzone -- who has taught at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, and has traveled extensively in that country -- walks this trio through the classic Moroccan rites of passage, from the inevitable onslaught of self-appointed guides for foreigners to the labyrinthine formalities involved in the purchase of a rug. But it's through their curiously affecting relationships with the locals that they find what they blindly came to seek. In "The Surrender," the disaffected Peter discovers new meaning in teaching by taking two young beggars under his wing. In "The Fire-Eater," Sarah reaches a point where "her life could be more her own" after asserting herself sexually with a Moroccan man. Disappointingly, Henry remains stubbornly, if colorfully, one-dimensional.

Because of Mr. Ardizzone's cumulative approach to storytelling -- his deliberate style drags at times -- these vignettes work better as a group than individually. But his use of shifting perspectives is an effective device. His willingness to penetrate Moroccan culture, rather than paint it as an exotic backdrop for expatriate adventures, makes this collection, which won the 1992 Milkweed National Fiction Prize, refreshingly original.

Review of Contemporary Fiction review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
Copyright © 1993 by Review of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 1993. Reviewed by Laura Pedrick.

This year's winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize joins the growing ranks of novel/short story hybrids. Ardizzone weaves three distinct story lines in Larabi's Ox, all involving Americans hoping to distract themselves from stateside problems in the disturbing beauty of the Moroccan landscape.

Henry Goodson, dying of cancer, goes to Morocco to escape the horror of an American institutionalized death. Goodson hopes to finally grasp a moment of his own creation, independent of the mundane demands of his work-shaped life. Sarah Rosen's purpose in Morocco is to demonstrate her self-reliance in the aftermath of a failed relationship. The third central character, Peter Corvino, is an embittered academic hoping to revive his career through an exchange program to a Moroccan university.

Morocco is an insistent presence in these stories. Ardizzone provides a richness of detail that lends his treatment of the country and its people an air of verisimilitude. Yet here the setting is not merely a backdrop; neither is it a foil, using the contrast of First and Third World to throw (Western) characters' inner struggles into high relief (or to make them more exotic and thus more interesting to the reader). Rather, the keen depiction of the "fourth character" seems to convey two ideas that are vital to an understanding of the book; first, that Morocco is real; and second, that knowledge of this reality is essential to the characters' self-development.

The "reality" Ardizzone creates is far more than the flat fact of Morocco's existence. It consists of the daily life and problems of individual Moroccans such as Ahmed, the guide who becomes the companion of Henry Goodson's last days. Ahmed's anguish over the touristic remaking of his culture (which overemphasizes the quaint and exotic even as it seals itself off from meaningful contact with Moroccans in a bubble of resort-ease) escapes the one-dimensionality that usually mars characters freighted with a message. He is depicted in the rich context of his family and his university studies.

Avoiding distillation into types, Moroccans present a series of surprises to the Americans. Their "otherness" prompts the definition of self and situation that leads to personal growth. For Peter Corvino, self-realization is not only an inward plunge, but also a social, public experience of fitting oneself into the world. As Corvino learns to function in Moroccan society, acceptings its differences, he comes to accept his own situation.

Beautifully designed and thoughtfully written, Larabi's Ox is a rarity: a book about Americans abroad that offers the hope of some rapprochement across cultures.

The Hollins Critic review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
Copyright © 1994 by The Hollins Critic, Vol. 31, No. 3, June 1994. Reviewed by Rita Ceresi.

On the way from Casablanca to Rabat, a shuttle bus strikes an ox. The blue-black beast lying in the middle of the road -- its stomach swollen and its lips and tongue swarming with flies -- introduces the complexities of Morocco to three American passengers who have just landed in Casablanca, hoping to escape bad situations in the States by steeping themselves in the exotic atmosphere of a thoroughly foreign land.

So begins Larabi's Ox, fourteen superb, interrelated stories that might serve as a model for American authors interested in writing about the expatriate experience. Tony Ardizzone, who taught in Rabat and travelled through Morocco, has both compassion and criticisms for his American and native Moroccan characters. By filtering the hubbub of the streets -- the dancing monkeys, crippled beggars, and fire-eaters -- through the eyes of Henry Goodson, Peter Corvino, and Sarah Rosen, he recreates the Arabian Nights atmosphere of North Africa without describing the exotic merely for its own sake.

Plagued by cancer, Henry Goodson has come to Morocco to die. The overweight Goodson, often described as a Humpty-Dumpty figure with his "Humphrey Bogart hat and camera and kangaroo pockets," becomes a source of fascination for Ahmed, a guide who eventually helps Henry see more than just the usual tourist sites. The friendship that develops between the two men -- sometimes tenuous and uneasy -- shows the inherent limitations and possibilities of understanding between Western and Arab culture.

Peter Corvino, a bitter, recently-divorced historian visiting Rabat on academic exchange, is the character who has the most difficulty adjusting to Morocco. Alarmed by the poverty that assaults him on the streets, he often retreats into a dream world in which he relives the final days of his failed marriage. Peter finally connects with Third World customs and culture by befriending a young beggar whom he suspects of being a charlatan. In "The Surrender," one of the most moving stories of this collection, Peter discovers that appearances can be greatly deceiving.

Ardizzone presents a female viewpoint on Morocco through Sarah Rosen, who travels to prove her own independence as well as to escape a bad relationship. In a series of ugly encounters, Sarah finds out what it means to be Jewish -- and a woman -- in an Arab culture. Yet it does not harden her heart. Easily the most "sponge-like" of the three characters, Sarah identifies with a series of unlikely people -- such as a boy prostitute and a drunken expatriate -- who eventually help her become more aware of who she is.

Larabi's Ox is reminiscent of Camus' short fiction -- especially stories such as "The Guest" and "The Adulterous Woman" -- in which Westerners are touched by something mysterious in the North African landscape and undergo a rebirth. Ardizzone is a first-rate storyteller who is not afraid to touch the "big subjects" of love, life, and death. He manages to avoid the sentimental through powerful descriptions, intricate plotting, and subtle symbolism. Emphasis on the metaphysical experiences of his characters makes this collection even richer. Readers will wonder how the transformed Sarah and Peter will rearrange their lives when they return back to the United States, and may even find themselves speculating if Henry, in death, reached some version of Mecca or Heaven.

These short stories all were previously published in some of the country's best literary journals; as a collection, they won the 1992 Milkweed National Fiction Prize. With the previous publication of other interesting collections such as Susan Straight's Aquaboogie and Eileen Drew's Blue Taxis, Milkweed Editions has proven its dedication to publishing high-quality fiction in original paperback editions. Besides being a wonderful read, Larabi's Ox is a beautiful book, printed on thick, creamy paper, with subtle drawings by Allan Servoss. This is the kind of of book serious readers and writers are known to press upon others with a command that's easily seconded by reviewers: "Read this."

The Indianapolis News review of Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Dance to the Music," Copyright © 1992 by The Indianapolis News, September 26, 1992. Reviewed by Sara Sanderson.

They don't design homes with reading rooms anymore; they really should.

Reading Tony Ardizzone's Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco deserves rich carpet, mellow woods, and perhaps a cup of highly sweetened tea, to grace the mood. Ardizzone will sneak you into the fabric of the country as deftly as a weaver's fingers knot the threads of a Berber carpet. Relax, nestle deeper into some quiet corner, and enjoy a magnificent journey.

Larabi's Ox, billed as short stories, actually flows smoothly as a novel. The collection spreads out a tapestry of lives as colorful as a Marrakesh bazaar. Beginning on an ill-fated bus that hits an ox, we follow three Americans visiting Morocco for different reasons. Peter Corvino, a professor on exchange, seeks to know if anything he has ever done really matters, suspecting it hasn't. Sarah Rosen, striding boldly away from marriage, steps into an unchartered future. Henry Goodson knows why he is traveling: soak up life faster than the cancer spreading inside him can devour it.

Imagery and spirituality layer the tales, swirling thick as Moroccan mid-day heat and the ever-present dust. When the unfortunate ox dies beside the wheels of an airport bus, it was merely a process of maktub, or "that what is written is sure to pass." The ox, it seems, failed to understand that "the road belongs to the strong...."

Henry Goodson, the man dying of cancer, comments that the bus driver had hit an immense black ox. No one else responds. "Henry wishes someone would respond. Because whenever he remembers how his body turned Benedict Arnold on him, he aches to be touched, or at least acknowledged." Peter Corvino, the one his university had compromised on sending, was making the acquaintance of M. Alain Bonet, of Casablanca, who would later admonish him. "You must learn how to handle these Arabs if you expect to stay here and work. It's not like they're people." Sarah Rosen sat staring out the window, watching the ocean, and the "furious whitecaps biting their way into the shore." Much the same, her marriage had bitten into her soul. She realized, with a start, that the best thing they had done together was compete.

Morocco, land of contrasts, towers, and gates. Land of ancient, oppressive ways existing side by side with modern Europeans, namely French. Yet, "the real Morocco. . . lies between."

Ardizzone, who taught at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, in 1995, must have observed with an inner eye. We easily see a water seller, copper bowls tinkling about his scarlet robes. We feel the clutches of street beggars, offering blessings, and we taste the Meknès wine. Henry Goodson, with his clicking American camera, misses the life being spread out before him; Ardizzone focuses it slyly for the reader.

Spiced with Arabic, Islam, and vibrant geography, the stories astound. Your heart aches for Henry, as he believes his final days have found a friend. The tale of Peter bargaining for a carpet, only to lose it to armed soldiers, is brilliant. Walk the narrow winding streets of Marrakesh with Sarah, as she dares to explore. Comparing the alert bustle of Marrakesh to the quiet brooding of Fez, she muses, "If Fez were a woman, she'd be wrapped in a black djellaba, and her face would be veiled." Marrakesh would be a woman "you could walk up to and say hello."

We have reason to be home-state proud of Ardizzone. Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize of 1992, presently he teaches literature and creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington. In October, Ardizzone will be one of the featured writers at the Writers' Center of Indianapolis Fall Literary Festival. One of our own, rising to the top; be sure to watch for more of his work.

Paraphrasing T. S. Eliot, Ardizzone writes that we dance for as long as we hear the music. How long is that? The music of Morocco, through his pen, helps you know.

Back to Top