Silent Passengers

Silent Passengers

by Larry Woiwode
     
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the 10 stories comprising his latest collection, Woiwode ( Indian Affairs ) captures the essence of contemporary midwestern American life. Eschewing the conventional narrative, he creates a palette of 10 subtle but vivid and commanding stories that illuminate the reaches of the human heart. With dreamlike intensity, the protagonist of ``Owen's Father'' searches for his identity, ``watching scenes replay themselves, he believed he was discovering the reality of his father, and this brought him closer to himself.'' In a touching, funny, and bittersweet evocation of a fledgling romance (``Sleeping Love''), two young lovers-to-be find the bedroom they had intended to sleep in occupied by a party. Dragging a mattress into the basement they sleep there, chaste as lambs. When they waken in the morning, ``She lay at his side, breathing heat over his face. . . . He got up and hooked the basement door. . . . The effect was as if he'd proposed.'' Nowhere is Woiwode's spare yet resonating prose more effective than in the immensely affecting title story. A father who had always wondered how parents cope when their children are in pain shares the experience when his own son is badly hurt in a riding accident. ``He pitied their patience and calm, but now he understood; it was enough to have the children with them, alive.'' Written by a prose master, these vignettes shimmer with insights as they celebrate the resilience of the human spirit. ( Aug .)
Library Journal
The intense but often tenuous connection between parent and child or Mother Earth and her human inhabitants is a dominant motif in these tales by the acclaimed author of Indian Affairs ( LJ 4/15/92). ``Owen's Father'' shows a young man tyrannized by memories of a parent who apparently committed suicide. In the title story, a middle-aged man moves his family to a remote ranch to escape alcoholism and the demands of his electronics firm. When his son suffers a head injury and does not speak for several weeks, the father grieves for a child he may ``never see again.'' A few selections seem more like essays than fiction, but these too are elegantly written and richly evocative. Like the Great Plains setting he frequently employs, Woiwode's tales possess a harsh beauty. Previewed in Prepub Alert, 2/1/93.-- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Mary Carroll
The narrator of "Confessionals"--an erstwhile Roman Catholic in Protestant territory, an itinerant laborer whose work "add[s] to the cables and pipework and boards and wires that more and more cover the earth in interlocking complexity . . . [even] under the open sky of . . . [the] loosely populated places" that are Woiwode's chosen milieu--reminds us that "mixtures within the simplest motive provide the clues we need to identify one another's character--that personal trajectory we each take through time." Chronicling the burdens of both isolation and interdependence, this collection of ten stories includes tales of tentative young love ("Sleeping Over") and the intense emotional involvement of parents and children ("Possession," "Winter Insects," "Blindness," "Owen's Father," and the moving title story), as well as meditative pieces with limited narrative movement ("Wanting an Orange," "Summer Storms," "Black Winter"). As in his past fiction--most recently, "Indian Affairs" and "Born Brothers" (1988)--Woiwode's "Silent Passengers" takes its readers on a difficult but rewarding journey into the heart of the country and the soul of the human condition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689121593
Publisher:
Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/28/1993
Pages:
160

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