From the Publisher
“Mary Morris seems to have a microscope trained on the souls and hearts of mankind . . . A superb collection . . . A magnificent writer.” The Washington Post Book World
“Dizzy with self-realization, Morris's characters venture out beyond the beach resorts to more compelling but often perilous territories.” The Chicago Tribune
“These knowing, sometimes dark tales are about people struggling to connect with each other in spite of their own ambivalence.” Glamour
“Mary Morris's compassion is on par with her sense of humor, a rare combination.” Betsy Willeford, The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)
“The stories are quite disarmingly complex, while keeping up a surface appearance of clarity and straightforwardness . . . It's a fine book.” Charles Baxter
“Ten subtle, impressionistic stories that linger and expand in the memory.” Mademoiselle
“As a storyteller, Morris shines. Reading her best stories is like sinking into a good photograph. She packs them with tiny details, but never allows the particulars to interfere with the vision and balance of the whole.” Julia Corbin, St. Petersburg Times
“A poised and articulate collection.” Publishers Weekly
“Exquisitely revealing moments...clearly Morris hasn't lost her touch as a story writer.” Kirkus Reviews
“Morris's ability to reincarnate her travel stories into fiction make for a well-rounded, fully formed body of work. It is also a pleasure to come upon a contemporary author who writes fiction and nonfiction equally well.” Kristin Rose, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“What really unifies these stories is Morris's spartan approach to descriptive detail and her spare language. Instead of spoon-feeding her readers, Morris leaves much for them to infer.” Marie Elsie St. Leger, Time Out New York
Morris's third collection (Vanishing Animals, 1975; The Bus of Dreams, 1985) shows some of the flair for yarnspinning missed in her last novel, House Arrest (1996), but repetition lessens the overall impact of the ten tales here (nine previously published).
Most of this volume's characters are poised on the cusp of a change, nowhere more so than in the title story, where a teenage lifeguard, accustomed to being the lord of all he surveys, has a rude awakening when he proves deficient in the first aid needed to save a toddler on the beach. But young male protagonists are an exception; much more common are married women (like Emily in "The Snowmaker's Wife") who learn something profound about the emptiness of their lives. Emily's husband spends his winter nights making snow at a ski resort, but when his nocturnal absences increase she begins to suspect something else; then her fear that he's stepping out with her best friend is verified at a time when she's most vulnerable. Melanie in "Losing Track," Lenore in "The Glass-Bottom Boat," and the unnamed cowboy's wife in "Around the World" all experience epiphanies when they go to the limit of what their husbands can do for them, then step beyond on their own: Melanie during an all-night vigil in Navaho land, Lenore on a Caribbean holiday when a native opens her eyes to a world she'd denied, and the cowgirl when the carnival comes along, bringing a handsome stranger to the laundromat. We don't learn what follows these personal revelations, but Morris's implication is that her characters' lives, if not completely transformed, will at least be easier to bear.
Longing and change are better personified in some situations than others here, and the marital dynamic grows stale. But there are also exquisitely revealing moments, and clearly Morris hasn't lost her touch as a story writer.