THE TENNESSEE WALTZ And Other Stories by Alan Cheuse


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A second collection (Candace & Other Stories, 1980) from ""All Things Considered"" reviewer Cheuse (Fall Out of Heaven, The Grandmothers' Club): an unspectacular potpourri--with the best offerings having a strong sense of place, and the less impressive tending to be too sketchy. The touching ""Sources of Country Music"" uses a Music City tour as metaphor for a woman's failed honeymoon: life with her husband has already become restrictive and routine. ""Fishing for Coyotes"" (originally published in The New Yorker), strong on atmosphere and family grief, is about a woman who returns at Christmas to southern Texas and her alcoholic mother with her new husband (a would-be artist) and child; the complicated family situation (her mother is living with the narrator's aunt and uncle) is delicately handled. Other notables: ""Garden of the Gods,"" in which a law student confronts his father (a general) and stepmother to force them to put his institutionalized mother into a better place; ""The Seals,"" in which a man hosts his ex-wife's sister (who's pregnant) and her daughter (who's dying) and discovers a summarizing image of himself in an elephant seal bull: ""Whose eye was emptier, the waking beast's or his?""; and ""The Quest for Ambrose Bierce,"" about a reporter on assignment in Mexico who befriends a young woman and gets left with a baby. Other pieces deal less conclusively or completely with marital breakups (""The Tennessee Waltz,"" ""Land of Cotton"") or with family situations (""The Pac-Man Murders,"" ""Slides""). Most of these stories were originally published in Quarterly West, The Bennington Review, The Black Warrior Review, and other lesser-known journals. The most striking deal with occasions of loss or disappointment in the context of a particular place.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1990
ISBN: 0870743406
Publisher: Gibbs Smith