These plain-spoken stories take readers to construction sites and cheap rentals where chronically underemployed, necessarily mobile, struggling yet optimistic Texas Mexicans survive in an ungenerous world. Skilled laborers and tenuous families come alive in the undramatic settings and seethe with the blood and passion that transform ordinary events into the stuff of stories. In "Nancy Flores," a breathtaking depiction of first love flows into the enigmatically sordid fall of a youthful hero. "Winners on the Pass Line" pairs the fates of two restless visitors to Las Vegas who connect briefly and profoundly. Gilb's lesser stories meander into facile or abrupt endings, but the best are as unexpectedly beguiling and unforgettable as the arid stretches between their settings in El Paso and Los Angeles. Recommended for public libraries and area collections.