A story collection exploring issues of anger and loss.
The 14 stories gathered in Felver’s debut take place in rural settings throughout the Midwest, with a few exceptions set in urban locales. Though uniformly well-crafted, these are gritty stories that often touch on brutal subject matter. In their depiction of men dealing with hardship and loss, it’s the raw, sometimes-violent emotions of anger and regret that the author closely examines, and yet there are also genuine moments of poignancy. In “Queen Elizabeth,” one of the standout stories, an unlikely couple’s loving and passionate marriage is increasingly threatened by their class and educational differences until their bond unravels following the death of their young daughter. In “Hide-and-Seek,” the narrator is a middle-aged man who likes to hang out at airport lounges fantasizing about weekend trips with imaginary girlfriends. When he suddenly meets up with his long-estranged brother, they begin to reminisce about their past and a brother who died in an accident in their youth. The narrator slowly gathers that his differences with his brother are less defined than he had imagined, and memories of their brother’s death are equally painful for them both. “It’s sad, but my brother and me can only really talk about three or four different things, and one of them is our dead brother. It’s sad how I can’t punch him either, or maybe how I don’t really want to anymore. I guess I’ve always wanted to know someone else was still miserable about all of it, but now that it’s happening, it’s a nasty business.” Felver’s writing is sharp and insightful. His stories evoke the style and themes of writers ranging from Richard Russo to Rick Bass to Andre Dubus III and, in the particularly brutal surrealist title story, “The Dogs of Detroit,” Cormac McCarthy.
A substantial debut by a promising and confident new writer.