Ten contemporary stories of loss and separation, written in a modern American idiom and set in and around Tucson, Arizona.
In “Rattle,” a boy has an epiphany about his mother and father’s strained relationship: “Reconciliation. Just another word for trying the same failed thing all over again.” This thought could serve as an epigraph to many of the stories, for in them, we witness lost children, bewildered parents, and a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the two. Tucson is the locus of aridity, a metaphor for the lives of the characters. In “Anniversary,” a story about the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting, a high school girl comments that Tucson is "sort of beautiful….As long as you forget how ugly it really is." The opening story, “In the Days of Butchers,” focuses on a cross country coach who pushes his students almost beyond endurance in their training in the desert and eventually comes up with a way to disqualify the team from a major meet rather than face defeat. “Aliens,” one of the stranger stories in the collection, spans a number of years and introduces us to aliens living as retirees in an RV in Arizona. They work as sociologists of sorts, chronicling the lives of regular residents. “Water” depicts the consequences of the lack of that commodity in Tucson. A worker gets a seemingly “cushy temp job” giving out tickets to those who violate watering policy, and he picks up money on the side by destroying homemade cisterns citizens use to collect rainwater.
Fiction that leaves one parched…and sometimes wanting more.