A collection of short stories explores the delicate web of family relations and the natural cycles of growth and loss over several decades in the life of one small-town American family
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In a second collection of blue-collar stories (The Rat Becomes Light, 1990), Secreast continues to impress with gritty, heartfelt fiction that chronicles life in a North Carolina factory town--this time by interconnecting 11 pieces that tell the moving saga of one family. Curtis and Adele Holsclaw, in the Appalachian foothills, have three children: wild Marleen, curious Phyllis, and bashful Dennis. The stories about the family move from their early life together to last things, mostly in chronological order. In ``Where the Modern World Begins,'' set in 1952, Curtis is a gambling man busy in his yard digging a septic tank. A rooster won by gambling attacks his son Dennis, and Curtis puts an end to the rooster--and, we suspect, to his gambling career--by impaling the bird. By ``Road Skills,'' set several years later, we're watching Marleen, already clever to the world, pretend to learn how to drive from her father (boyfriends have already taught her): ``Marleen knew which [gear] was which, but she waited until Curtis pointed before touching the pedal he indicated.'' ``If You See Me Coming'' is a dazzling coming-of-age story featuring Phyllis that climaxes with her climbing into an iron lung in order to understand the limitations of life. After the title piece--in which Gaither Drum, who ``on a busy day...could carry twelve tacks at a time in his mouth,'' saves Marleen from Junior McLaughlin (``shiftless enough and stubborn enough to be considered dangerous by the local law'') through an upholstering contest--things turn grim. Remaining stories chronicle the death of a grandparent, Marleen's divorces and slow death from cancer, and Curtis's and Adele's effort (in ``The Necessary Arrangements'' and ``For Sentimental Reasons'') to grieve without turning to stone. A bull's-eye--full of luminous detail and a wisdom grounded in seasonal, industrial and, most of all, familial cycles. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Fulfilling the promise of his first collection, The Rat Becomes Light , Secreast forges this chain of 12 interrelated stories with links of powerful insight and resonating detail. Although the flip title promises kitsch--and indeed, a collection of salt shakers, velvet furniture and other lowbrow accoutrements are present--Secreast portrays his rural, blue-collar North Carolina characters with compassion and empathy. The opening tale, "Where the Modern World Begins," set in 1952, introduces earnest WW II veteran Curtis Holsclaw, his pragmatic wife Adele and their three children. In the stories that follow, some 40 years pass in the Holsclaws' lives, but while large chunks of time are omitted, references to past events establish solid continuity. Throughout the book, acts of vengeance and gestures of caring share the stage. "The Magnetism of Woe" takes place at a wake where mourners insist on opening the closed casket of a man killed in a car accident. Such morbid fascination also motivates one Holsclaw daughter to experimentally climb into an iron lung in "If You See Me Coming." Later, "Caution Car" tells how that same daughter vindictively uses a wild boar against her sister's unfaithful husband. Other tales have a crushing poignance, particularly "The Necessary Arrangements," in which Adele plans a funeral for one of her children. Secreast contributes a genuine wit, a wise heart, and a dangerous way with a punchline to this formidable collection.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110060164417
Book Description Harpercollins. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060164417 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1888917
Book Description Harpercollins, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060164417