As evidenced in this provocative collection of short stories, Wiggins seems able to change mood and locale, voice and narrative point of view, with dazzling skill. These 14 tales have a fine variety, but the best are those that involve characters who speak in regional patois and idiosyncratic turns of phrase. In ``Ridin' Up Front with Carl and Marl,'' a trio of Southerners encounters a hardbitten photographer from Massachusetts who tells them, ``You people have no sense of what life's really like''; but she's wrong. ``The Gentleman's Arms'' takes place in England, where would-be lovers united after 20 years encounter a monumental let-down, and at the end, a poignant moment of insight. ``Stonewall Jackson's Wife'' herself is the ghostly narrator of that story, which surges with sadness. The narrator's colloquial speech places ``Insomnia'' squarely in the `80s; her wry, bitter voice is oddly and immensely affecting. That same bitterness unmitigated by humor is not so successful in ``Quicksand'' and ``Pleasure''; and one tale, ``Among the Impressionists,'' is too quirky. But the title story, which ends the collection, embodies Wiggins's best skills: her ability to illuminate commonplace truths with a precise, clarifying vision. Wiggin's stories do not give up their secrets easily; but their subtle unfolding can cause chills along the reader's spine. (August 17)
Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)
Meet the Author
Marianne Wiggins’s novels engage both with the tumult of history and the shadowed depths of the human heart. From the making of the atomic bomb to the capturing of the American West on film, this award-winning writer has taken on some of the most complex topics in contemporary fiction.
Marianne Wiggins was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Brussels, Rome, Paris, and London. She is the author of ten books of fiction, including John Dollar and Evidence of Things Unseen, for which she was a National Book Award finalist in fiction, as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. She is Professor of English at the University of Southern California. (Author biography courtesy of Simon and Schuster.)