FETCHING THE DEAD: Stories by Scott R. Sanders


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Three related stories sit in the center of this collection by Sanders (Wilderness Plots)--""Fetching the Dead,"" ""Wake,"" ""Walking to Sleep""--each further detailing the disappointments and guilts of Southern farm-boy Jesse Morgan. Jesse has lured a younger brother off to the city to join him; he has had that brother accidentally killed on his way; he has then been exploited in business and love by his best friend; and he has finally returned home after WW II to live marginally with his family while his father serves briefly as the warden of a prison farm (which features a nasty old guard named Kirkus). Jesse's travails are neither sharp nor especially fresh--merely wounded at the kneecap-level of sentimentality. Throughout, in fact, solemn sincerity of purpose is a hindrance to full effectiveness in Sanders' stories; even ""The Recovery of Vision""--a strong piece about a man with an eye infection touring Europe with his girlfriend, his temporary blindness forcing her to be his eyes--suffers badly from a straining metaphor in the blindness. (Heretofore the man has been worried about financial dependence on the girlfriend.) And only in ""The Fire Woman""--a study of Midwestern pride in the face of terrible violence--does Sanders achieve strength and dignity without excess earnestness. Otherwise, like Wilderness Plots and the Wonders Hidden fragment above (see Le Guin): flat, innocuous, dullish work.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press