HOME FIRES: Stories by David Long


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Eight finely crafted, quiet stories--which insistently probe ""the terrible precariousness of . . . lives and their links to one another."" Long's freezing western landscape is sparsely people by women in uniform--waitresses and nurses no longer young--and by cowboys, drifters, and long distance truckers ""crippled in ways that show and don't show,"" linked by little more than loneliness and CB radios. In ""Border Crossing,"" a young man's box of family photographs ""only made him hurt and did nothing to explain how he should feel and what would be the right thing to do."" In ""Morning Practice,"" a young woman, herself divorced, learns that her dead mother's avocation as cellist has been in fact a resolutely private life apart from family. In the title story, a trucker, thinking of his wife of ten years, knows ""that the two were not one, after all, but two."" A hack writer and his live-in girlfriend in ""Other People's Stories"" fail to turn ""passion into anything that could grow and multiply and last"": chewing on the past to find where it all went wrong, the writer thinks ""maybe it is foolhardy to try to track it all down."" But the aging barmaid in ""Saving Graces,"" caught in the mystery of the past, still worries the question: ""When did I change? . . . When did I get like this?"" Vital connections between these isolated people are transient: in the hotel, on the dancefloor, on the road. Yet given another chance, that title-story trucker heads for his own ""home fires""--""lucky enough to see that all of it . . . could have gone another way."" Forthright rather than subtle stories, then, with emotional material clearly spelled out--but, on their own terms: strong, clear, honest tales from a writer previously known chiefly for the story ""Eclipse""--which (along with strong work by such other traditionalists as Susan Engberg) appeared in The Pushcart Prize, VI (1981).

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press