Little Star of Bela Lua
Animals, humans, and spirits intermingle in ways both comic and horrific in Brazilian American Luana Monteiro’s solid debut collection, Little Star of Bela Lua, set mostly in Brazil’s parched, impoverished northeast. In ”A Fish in the Desert,” a rainbow-hued fish emerges from a peasant’s latrine to offer miracle cures — with disastrous consequences. The tenderhearted doctor protagonist of ”Curado” takes in a turkey, which promptly befouls his pregnant girlfriend’s imported Mustang (and their strained relationship). Monteiro’s fever-dream imagery and luxuriant mystical symbolism at times threaten to overpower her abundant gifts: crisp, twisty storytelling, a keen sense of the absurd, and full-bodied characters who make her landscapes thrillingly strange yet eerily familiar.