A first collection of 18 loosely connected stories set in a woebegone piece of Maine on the Canadian border. Wuori's most conventional effort may be "Family," about an idealistic college professor and his family, newcomers to the town of Quilli. They want to get close to the land, despite the warning from the locals: "Don't go living out somewhere. It won't be what you think." What it is is snow that drifts so high and lasts for so long that they can't get help for sick children, and go crazy with an almost surreal loneliness. "Fantasy was the only thing left. All else was madness," notes another character, Pearson, in "Nude," as if speaking for all of these stories. Pearson makes love to Liselle, his fellow clerk in the tiny town hall. As lives are snuffed out with random violence and the snow continues to pile up, Pearson imagines a different sort of life than Quilli can offer, and salvages just a little of his poetic soul. In "Revenge," two gunmen kidnap an ordinary married couple. The wife is injured slightly, which so incites her husband that he begins a struggle with the driver, wrestles away the gun, and turns the tables. At first, husband and wife resolve to turn over the kidnappers to authorities, but then the husband shoots one of the men in the hand, beginning a systematic torture of the criminals that ends in their strange and pitiful death. Like many of Wuori's stories, "Revenge" is melodramatic but effective, pointing up the violence and chaos just under the rational surface of many of us. Wuori's looniness is his own, and sometimes seems contrived. But cleverness lies beneath his deceptively simple style, and, with an emphasis on the quirks of small-town characters, he often brings to mind Sherwood Anderson.
Read full book review >