FAMILY MEN by Steve Yarbrough


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Yarbrough's first collection of 11 stories--several concerning reconciliations that redeem otherwise bleak lives in the small, town South--occasionally rises above its serviceable but undistinguished prose by virtue of its careful characterwork. The most memorable pieces include ""Three Cheers for Ellis Fuller,"" about an unmarried teacher, Lucille Clifton, who receives a love letter from an unknown admirer--Ellis Fuller, it turns out, a student of hers in 1962 (she doesn't remember him), who later convinces her that they are meant to assuage their loneliness together. Likewise, in ""Between Now and Then,"" Larkin, a high-school coach with ambition, finally gives up his dreams to make a commitment to his lover Emily and remain in Indianola. Meanwhile, many of these tales slide from conflict to uplift in a way that becomes a little formulaic, though the Circumstances are nicely varied. ""The Full Ride"" is about a love affair between a young man who becomes the ""team joke"" because he's intelligent and a lonely, older woman. The two will break off with a minimum of distress and a good deal of sad acceptance. ""Some Glad Morning"" gives Rae, the wife of self-pitying (because crippled) country-and, western singer Moody, some respite in an affair with a stranger. Eventually, he leaves and Rae is reconciled with Moody. ""Born Again"" is a lively study of barmaid Lela's conversion to a born-again religion. Living in a trailer park, once married to a ""long-haul trucker,"" addicted to sleeping pills, she's saved when preacher Wade Watson ends the story by plunging her underwater into baptism. The details, though convincing in these stories, often are too much like many other stories, and the concluding affirmation doesn't always feel right. Many of these pieces originally appeared in literary magazines such as Kansas Quarterly and Southern Review. A modest but competent debut.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1990
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press