Books by Gordon Weaver

LONG ODDS by Gordon Weaver
Released: June 1, 2000

"A mixed-bag collection."
An eighth collection by the prolific author of the recent omnibus volume Four Decades (1997). The 11 moody stories here are closely focused (often first-person) explorations of embattled quotidian lives characterized by "interminable stasis"—like that of the aging loner who haunts a rundown diner ("Viewed from Lanta & Wally's"), a disabled Viet Nam vet attempting "interaction" with other lonely souls ("On Watch for Big Red"), or—in one of the two best stories, "Without Spot or Wrinkle"—a stuffy northeasterner who learns that his recently deceased renegade brother had led a far more enriching, and love-filled, life than his own. Weaver's stabs at literary-academic satire ("Solidarity Forever!," "Gilded Quill: The Story of Jones") are embarrassingly weak, but when he sticks to ordinary Joes in hopeful conflict with fate and circumstance (such as the devoted father who builds a lavish Christmas light display for his blind daughter, in the touching "Imagining the Structure of Free Space on Pioneer Road"), he's with people we can care about, and in his element. Read full book review >
FOUR DECADES by Gordon Weaver
Released: June 1, 1997

Weaver is a prolific short-story writer (seven volumes, including, most recently, The Way We Know in Dreams, 1994) and, as this sampler of nine tales drawn from his collections and three previously uncollected stories makes plain, he's also an extraordinarily skilled craftsman. The best stories here—``Hog's Heart,'' for instance, an ironic tale of the decline and death of a college football coach; ``The Good Man of Stillwater, Oklahoma,'' about an individual's slow slide into delusion and loss; and ``Getting Serious,'' which illuminates with a moving precision the hitherto unsuspected course of a man's life—are terse, carefully focused studies, turning on believable moments of crisis and revelation. While not a true ``Best Of'' collection (several of the stories, among them ``When Times Sit In,'' his first published tale, and the wanly experimental ``Whiskey, Whiskey, Gin, Gin, Gin,'' are unpersuasive), this nonetheless should serve to direct readers back to Weaver's large, often somber, and distinguished body of work. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1994

Dreams and memories, and what can be mined there, inform many of these tart, often funny stories by prize-winning writer Weaver (Men Who Would Be Good, 1992, etc.). Hoping to recapture something—good or bad—of childhood memories of summers past, a middle-aged man in ``Fearing What Dreams'' returns to live year-round in his family's lakeside cottage in central Wisconsin. He recalls, with some pleasure, readying the cabin each Memorial Day, carrying buckets of water to his unhappy mother to prime the kitchen pump, his grandfather building the porch—but the townsfolk only vaguely recall him and his family. ``Summer people,'' he's told, ``have no business in the country after Labor Day.'' In a delightful lampoon, Darcy, ``Poet- in-Residence'' at a multinational corporation, brags to rival poets—scruffy, bearded, jaded poseurs every one—that he owns two dozen three-piece suits and composes on a personal computer. Is he ``not a poet, less a poet,'' because he versifies for VPs and CEOs? A modern-day Faust breaks out of his writer's block when Alma Jean, his saucy, grubby, odoriferous muse (who grows in size the more he believes) finds him work ghostwriting a book on stock market scandals in the mordant but overly clamorous ``Batteiger's Muse.'' In the title story, dreams become enfolded within memories within dreams for a Vietnam veteran who casts his memory back to a dream he had while undergoing exit orientation debriefing at An Loc. In the dream he and his Uncle Roy chatted and reminisced at a family reunion. That his uncle's tales of card sharks and gunplay may or may not have been true matters little to the protagonist's memory of the dream or of his uncle: In memories and in dreams ``you know things without seeing them or being told.'' Occasionally too subtle; often too obvious. Still, these stories have a piquant resonance beyond simple entertainment. Read full book review >
MEN WHO WOULD BE GOOD by Gordon Weaver
Released: April 1, 1991

A disappointing sixth collection from Weaver (A World Quite Round, Getting Serious, etc.), particularly after the exuberant tour de force of his most recent novel (The Eight Corners of the World, 1988). With the exception of the novella, these seven instances of men at their emotional limits ends with Weaver's creativity at its lowest ebb. ``Under the World,'' the novella, is an inventive Vietnam fable about a short man who is recruited to infiltrate North Vietnam's vast system of underground tunnels and who decides never to come out: ``I didn't go back to The World because I wanted to keep on being who I am. Me. Huff.'' Here, there's a satisfying diversity of incident and a good deal of wordplay, as though Weaver's heart these days is in longer fictions. In the meantime, ``Whiskey, Whiskey, Gin, Gin, Gin'' is ``a kind of collage'' in which an alcoholic narrator's family history-like father, like son, carried through two generations-is structured as a pseudo-confession to a third party, presumably a counselor or therapist; ``Zen Golf'' is a familiar take on a man, failing at 43, who takes up golf to find ``wholeness.'' The plot escalates until the man loses all interest in anything but the nirvana he finds on the course, where he ``becomes'' the golf ball; ``The Good Man of Stillwater, Oklahoma'' is a slice-of- life, with pretensions to fabulism, about a man whose life as an Allstate employee is disrupted by drought, invasions of snakes and locusts, and tornadoes before a rhetorical apocalyptic finish; ``Turner's Dream'' goes inward to reveal the bleak life of a man who dreams of his dead parents and faces family problems by slipping into solipsism. At best, Weaver is struggling in these shorter fictions to find a new direction; at low ebb, but a fine craftsman work. Some of the pieces appeared in Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review, and Pushcart Prize X. Read full book review >