"Fasten your seatbelt. You are about to be transported by a master storyteller . . ." - Jayne Adams, author of For All the Right Seasons
In this debut collection of short stories, John W. MacIlroy delights in teasing the moment when everything changes, when the reader suddenly and completely knows the heart of each character and the fullness of the human experience. That slip may be gentle, air-brushed with a sly and lighthearted wink in stories like "The Closer," "Customer Service," and "McAllister's Asterisk." Or it may creep in after a slow roll, then slash across the final pages in bold strokes in stories like the award-winning "Duke's" and "Three Buses, Waiting." And in others, like "The Painting" and "The Man Inside," things unseen - whispered in the shadows and along the margins - suddenly explode in surprising ways, burrowing deep into the reader's soul. In the tradition of writers like Richard Ford, Christopher Tilghman and T.D. Johnston, these stories find in place an essential element of a good story. We find ourselves in a forgotten New England factory town; in a midwestern colonial along a street lined with tall oaks, middling ambitions and short mailboxes; and in a tired cemetery along the Mississippi where the hushed voices of the buried dance among the live oaks. And in the way of the Southern writer, these, and the other full-bodied stories in the collection, embrace the harsh gravitational pull of the past. And where they land - well, as the writer Jayne Adams warns, "Buckle up. You're in for a ride . . ."
"MacIlroy weaves these riches together with the skill of a born storyteller gifted with a poet's eye." - Douglas Campbell, winner of the Able Muse Write Prize