These stories are delicate seismographic meditations on disaster and its aftershocks. The characters are survivors, digging their way out of the past, shaken but hopeful. Despite all their tragic losses, there is a pervasive sense of humor, hope, and forgiveness: abandonment leads ultimately to reunion, grief to solace. This is contemporary America-a jigsaw puzzle of fragmented families constantly picking up the pieces and fitting themselves together in new ways to form unforgettable pictures.
The 1990 Iowa Short Fiction Award-winning stories in this debut collection calibrate loss and mourning. Families disintegrate: children are killed; husbands desert wives; mothers already maddened by grief can no longer care for their children and must relinquish them. Women succumb to cancer and undergo mastectomies; others, apparently intact, know that something fundamental is missing in their lives. Swick's narrators, who range from schoolchildren to backwater spinsters and college professors, face down tragedy with a toughness conveyed with deadpan wit and grace. When in "Heart" a concerned aunt talks about a niece's report from the school psychologist, her husband tells her, "Don't fill her head up with all that psychiatrist talk. . . She got troubles enough already"). In "Eating Alone," a widow mourns the recent death of her sister, Delphine, "until it occurred to me that maybe my husband and Delphine were together somewhere, some otherworld disco, dancing up a storm. Even dead, Delphine was probably more of live wire than I ever was." In these 10 tales, Swick apportions weal and woe so evenly that it's hard to know whether to cheer or cry.
Book year: 1990
Book pages: 205
Book language: en
File size: 6.75 MB
File type: pdf
Published: 27 December 2017 - 05:00