Falling under the spell of these short stories by O. Henry Award–winning author Thomas Fox Averill, a reader might well wonder: What in the world is ordinary? If there really are “just plain folks” anywhere at all, they’d surely be in the solid Midwestern Kansas of Averill’s fiction. And yet the “ordinary” people we meet in these stories lead us into one startling encounter after another with the mystery, the magic, and, yes, the transcendence that even the most mundane life secretly holds. In writing that has been called “lyrical” ( New York Times), “compelling” ( Kansas City Star), and “voluptuous” ( Booklist), Averill explores the relationship between fathers and sons, the dead and the living, the natural and the unnatural. With crystalline clarity he reveals the ordinary and the extraordinary genius of a place, a time, a solitary soul embedded in the minutiae of the everyday: a young boy hunting for a runaway horse; a couple ostracized in their small town; a grieving high school basketball star; a child with a voice purer than a tuning fork; a gay son seeking his father’s acceptance; two boys playing bocce with the parish priest for high stakes—the secret of their birth. If there is magic in love, in acceptance, in sorrow and solace in all the usual places, then these stories find that magic with ordinary genius.