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The ten eloquent, sometimes humorous, stories in Koger's debut collection are set in Bobble Ann Mason country--a small border-state town--but Koger's ordinary people resist the limitations of their world and struggle to hold onto things of the spirit and heart. The people of Farlanburg dream of escape or of somehow transforming daily existence and finding satisfaction. Men get cancer working for the chemical company or take jobs in Ohio and see their families only on weekends. Earl, the protagonist of ""Bypass,"" knows the difference between fast-food chicken and home-fried and knows, too, that his unloving marriage needs help: when he tries to talk to his wife about it, however, she looks at him as if he's talking about athlete's foot, a problem that has nothing to do with her. In ""Extended Learning,"" Della longs to share her love of the natural world with her studious visiting grandson, but can only get him out for a walk with a five-dollar bribe. Dutchi Halliday, in ""The June Woman,"" is a new fine exemplar of the small-town adolescent girl burning up with a desire for life; and in ""Ollie's Gate,"" another young girl has an enriching friendship with an elderly woman who is still condemned by her brother and by the town (and still unrepentant) for her youthful fall. Koger's voice sometimes falters--not all the stories have the living, breathing authenticity of the best--but this is still a notable achievement, and Koger a writer to watch and to enjoy.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1990
Publisher: Norton