Follow Me Home: Stories

Overview

William Hoffman is a master storyteller, and Follow Me Home reveals him at his inimitable best. In these eleven brilliantly observed, superbly crafted stories, he explores one of the most secret places of the human heart - the corner where we keep hidden the small and precious supply of whatever it is that lets us persist, and sometimes even triumph, in the face of life's inescapable diminishments and losses. In Hoffman's characters, the content of this inner reservoir varies greatly. For the hill farmer in ...
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Overview

William Hoffman is a master storyteller, and Follow Me Home reveals him at his inimitable best. In these eleven brilliantly observed, superbly crafted stories, he explores one of the most secret places of the human heart - the corner where we keep hidden the small and precious supply of whatever it is that lets us persist, and sometimes even triumph, in the face of life's inescapable diminishments and losses. In Hoffman's characters, the content of this inner reservoir varies greatly. For the hill farmer in "Abide with Me," it is a form of direct grace granted to him in a near-death vision. For the disabled veteran in "Night Sport," it is a bitter concoction of disillusionment and raw truth carried home from a distant war. For the quietly retired minister in "Sweet Armageddon," unexpectedly given a glimpse of the life he long ago forsook, it is a prayerful wish for annihilation. On a less apocalyptic scale, in the haunting "Points," a once-great horseman finds sustenance in a remembered world of elegance and courage - a world that, like his skills, is rapidly fading. In "Dancer," a bereft and lonely woman retreats into the music of her youth, birds becoming quarter notes that fill the sky. In "Expiation," a self-made executive after many years comes to terms with his own childhood, even though it means ending the lie on which his marriage is built. And in "Coals," a maid and cook calls on her own reserves of spirit to bring her employer a renewal of life. Set in the small towns, cities, hills, and seascapes of Virginia - territory Hoffman knows as well as any writer ever has - the stories of Follow Me Home reveal to us men and women we know and care about, for in their struggles, win or lose, we recognize ourselves.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Looking back is the motif that runs through these generally impressive stories from Hoffman, author of 10 novels (Furors Die) and two previous story collections (By Land, by Sea). Set in both the Appalachian region of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay area, the 11 tales here are hallmarked by delicate-and often elegiac or lyrical-prose that presents the perspective of older characters facing their pasts with a mix of bitterness, fortitude and a fondness for the few sweet moments in life. ``Dancer'' is among the best of the lot, serving up the dreamy memories and musical flights of fancy of an older woman who frequently vanishes into the past. ``Sweet Armageddon'' offers a different spin on the same theme, articulating the anger of a preacher who wishes for release as he and his wife continue their struggle against poverty. In contrast, ``Night Sport'' departs from formula with an account of an embittered Vietnam vet who makes sure his legacy is passed on to a would-be thief and prankster. Hoffman stumbles occasionally, particularly in several lackluster tales about hunting, but, even so, the collection will delight admirers of finely crafted stories, particularly those enamored of distinctive, well-evoked settings. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Set mainly in Virginia, these 11 stories anatomize loneliness and failed aspirations while at the same time celebrating the perseverance of those sustained largely by memories. Hoffman's varied protagonists include a retired minister who feels that his church has abandoned him, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran who vents his anger by entrapping and punishing a young burglar, and a member of the fox-hunting gentry whose increasing poverty erodes his social position. Despite their somber circumstances, several stories display carefully modulated humor. In "Coals," for example, a black housekeeper manages to reform her aristocratic mistress. Hoffman presents a spectrum of society and situation, all the while maintaining a steady and convincing narrative voice.-Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807125113
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

William Hoffman is the author of thirteen novels, translated into five languages between them, and four story collections. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 and has received numerous awards for his fiction, including the John Dos Passos Prize, Andrew Lytle Prize, Hammett Prize, Goodheart Prize, Hillsdale Prize, Emily Clark Balch Prize, and publication in The O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Short Stories. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates in literature from Hampden-Sydney College, Washington and Lee University, and Sewanee, the University of the South. He lives in Charlotte Court House, Virginia, population 566.

William Hoffman is the author of thirteen novels, translated into five languages between them, and four story collections. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 and has received numerous awards for his fiction, including the John Dos Passos Prize, Andrew Lytle Prize, Hammett Prize, Goodheart Prize, Hillsdale Prize, Emily Clark Balch Prize, and publication in The O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Short Stories. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates in literature from Hampden-Sydney College, Washington and Lee University, and Sewanee, the University of the South. He lives in Charlotte Court House, Virginia, population 566.

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Table of Contents

Dancer 1
Tides 20
Coals 41
Sweet Armageddon 56
Boy Up a Tree 79
Abide With Me 98
Night Sport 117
Points 136
Business Trip 157
The Secret Garden 176
Expiation 194
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