Makuck's third story collection (after Costly Habits) possesses a quiet sense of assurance, a whiff of earned nostalgia, and familiar, identifiable characters. The conventional narrative arcs are reminiscent of television sitcoms, providing a gentle charm as if from a bygone era. They are, as a character in "A Perfect Time" describes the novel he's reading, "pleasantly boring". There is nothing here to offend or provoke; just routine observations by the protagonists as they catalogue their inner thoughts on a normal day. Behind this quietude lurks the possibility of tragedy, but when tension rises to the point of crisis, the moment dissipates as Makuck eagerly sets things right. In "Ghost of Thanksgiving" the ferocious dog attacking a young child at a mall is subdued by a whack on the snout; in "Distance" the angry stranger in a traffic jam turns out to be a fellow immigrant from Poland, and in "Lights at Skipper's Cove" the malfunctioning boat stranded at sea is found and towed safely back to shore. Each time a conflict arises the narrative swells and then, "like a bad thought, it gone." As the sun sets, the protagonists are buoyed to a safer, happier place than where they began. (Apr.)
North Carolina Literary Review
"Peter Makuck's third short story collection, Allegiance and Betrayal, includes some of his most impressive writing to date.... A poet and a short story writer, Connecticut native Makuck has lived most of his adult life in North Carolina, and his oeuvre bears the imprint of the Eastern North Carolina coast and landscape as well as small-town New England....Makuck's characters are active: they fix cars, tinker with plumbing, dive shipwrecks and deep-sea fish....The idea that the process of living - even the difficulties along the way - is a blessing could describe Makuck's characters throughout the collection as they navigate the most transitional parts of life."