The King of Lighting Fixtures

In a helter-skelter cornucopia of voices and formats, the stories of Daniel Olivas's King of Lighting Fixtures are set on the streets of Los Angeles, focusing on characters as diverse as the city. The collection cements his place in the magical realism tradition of García Márquez and Urrea, and showcases his skills as a master stylist and self-aware observer of life's little vignettes. Grandson of Mexican immigrants, converted Jew in the Reformed tradition, Olivas (The Book of Want; Things We Do Not Talk About) works as a lawyer in the California Department of Justice and works miracles on the page. "He will have to call it 'fiction' otherwise he will be rejected by the publishing industry as a lunatic," as Olivas writes of a character in "The Three Mornings of José Antonio Rincón" who wakes in different bodies on three consecutive days.

God bless Olivas's lunacy. His stories chronicle the lives of writers, lawyers, administrative clerks, baristas, panhandlers, dopers and the more fantastic but nonetheless believable goat-footed Satan, sex-fixated female devil and 12-fingered boy. The titular metafiction, about a self-made lighting store magnate and his love life, includes interviews with each character by a journalist hired by a man named Olivas. The only story set outside Southern California, "Imprints," is the marvelous monologue of a Latina literary agent sitting at a New York City café with a friend and lamenting a publisher's request that she provide him with more ethnic work: "I hate that word. Hispanic. It's so government-talk and sounds like white liberal-ese." Olivas is a literary marvel, and The King of Lighting Fixtures is dazzling fiction. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Powered by: Xtenit