In 11 beautifully wrought stories - ranging from occupied Czechoslovakia to California's Central Valley to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest - Mark Slouka explores moments in life when our backs are to the wall.
Whether battling the end of desire, the fact of injustice, or death itself, the men and women in these stories are willing to use whatever comes to hand-luck, accident, desperate gesture-to emerge victorious. In "Crossing," a father hoping to compensate for his failures finds himself facing his past while fording a river with his young son on his back; in "Conception," a young couple frozen by the possible end of their marriage is offered an unexpected way back; in "Half- Life," a proud, aging shut-in finds her resolve tested by an extraordinary visitor determined to shatter her solitude.
Alternately harrowing and redemptive, these are stories of ordinary men and women, doing everything possible to tighten their grip on life.
What members say
- Alec Drumm
Uneven collection of eloquent stories
What I liked most about these stories were the poetic observations the author makes in his writing. For example, the author writes of the waffle-shaped imprint of boots in the snow. There were many such descriptions that were all beautiful.
Other than the quality of the writing, the stories are rather mundane, mostly about parent/child relationships in the 1960s in the Midwest. Nothing much happens. The collection becomes uneven when one of the stories (about a dog) veers into the fantastical.
So throughout the book I tried to discover a common thread in the stories and there really wasn't any that I could see. I doubt that I would listen to this collection again.
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