Here, a striking first collection--eight stories and a novella--from Lowell, winner of the first Milkweed Editions National Fiction Prize. Lowell writes mostly about the American Southwest and shows more interest in terrain--both psychic and geographic--than plot. Tenses shift, time speeds up and slows down, and Lowell's characters often Fall down existential rabbit-holes of memory, fear, or angst. These stories have an almost dreamlike movement but, grounded as they are in precise and poetic detail, they remain convincingly real. The narrator of ""White Canyon"" shares her nostalgic memories of childhood in a Utah uranium-mining camp: along with more innocuous scenes, there's the chattering of Geiger counters during a fallout storm. Then the story jumps to the present, with the narrator's hospitalization and discovery of a brain tumor. All of a sudden, her memories are not merely nostalgic, but an attempt to make sense of experience and perception. Lowell is adept at presenting cross-sections of society: ""Los Mojados"" looks at the relationships between two generations of Anglo ranchers, Mexican cowboys, and illegal aliens; ""Wild Pigs"" charts the reactions of five different households to the javelinas that appear in a one-time desert wilderness now developed for condos, highways and Pizza Huts; the novella ""Ganado Red,"" in five storylike chapters, follows a Navajo rug from the hands of the woman who weaves it in 1920. through the hands of the various people who buy it up until 1981. An impressive debut--and a splendid start for the Milkweed Editions contest.