Young widow Brenda Márquez resides in unglamorous Hayward, California, with her sullen daughter, Blanca, and pregnant Gina, an unwed teen with a history in gangs. Stuck in a dead-end job at the DMV, Brenda feels invisible, certain no one could guess she was once loved by someone who's now a famous movie star. But when she fails an angry woman on her driving test and the woman turns the situation into a violent standoff, Brenda discovers just how grand her own stage can be in this funny, wrenching story of how past loves can reverberate for years and keep us going in ways we never imagined.
East Bay Grease
Nathan Porter, a young war veteran haunted by an atrocity he witnessed, ends up in an animation studio in southern California, where his dismal romantic history is upended by Violet Delmar, an older voice-over artist known nationally as "The Voice." Violet's siren song wafts in and out of Nathan's entire life, twisting through his misguided affairs and marriage, until he finds himself awakened, thanks to Violet, about no less than all of love and art. By turns haunting, humorous, and touching, The Love Life of an Assistant Animator is about the less familiar forms of deep connection that can end up rescuing us from ourselves.
The Love Life of an Assistant Animator
When Cat arrives in Portugal, she discovers that her friend Tónio has installed his ex-lover, Mateus, in the apartment, where he too is dying - of AIDS. As Cat struggles to untangle a complicated web of present desires and past secrets, she makes a series of shocking discoveries.
The Portuguese revolution serves as backdrop to Cat's father's terrible secret about his own suffering under the dictatorship, but it is the dramatic sequence of redemption-at-a-distance - as Cat's father manages to save Mateus, and even Tónio, from across the ocean - that will most startle listeners, and leave all but the most stalwart in tears.
Vaz is well-known for her stories set in the unglamorous parts of the San Francisco East Bay, with their poignant images, crisp dialogue, and swift pacing. From the opening line of The Glass Eaters - "I was my mother's mother until I turned 16." - we know we're in for one of her most wrenchingly intimate portraits yet. The Glass Eaters sweeps us into the lives of Julia Duarte and her mother, Clarissa, a caterer-turned-ice sculptor, as Clarissa's long-term affair with a married man takes turns that are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but finally a reminder of how everything except desire is fleeting. This is a story that pricks at our own secret hopes about what it means to love someone forever.
The Glass Eaters
Henry turns to watch a pretty woman pass, and in that instant his young daughter, Mary, is struck and killed by a bus.
Blue Flamingo Looks at Red Water lays bare the different pathways of grief as Henry and his wife, Isabel, deal with the unimaginable loss of their child. Isabel begins an affair with another bereaved father. Henry chooses silence and alcohol. But neither they nor the listener are prepared for the final twist that brings them back together while slowly tearing them apart. This is a story that sticks in mind and heart, an unforgettable song about the many forms of letting go, and the many more of holding on.