Silent Passengers

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( 23 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780689121593: Silent Passengers

A radiant new collection of stories from the acclaimed author of Indian Affairs. Families who live on the land under the exultant and demanding skies of the northern Great Plains are the people who populate Woiwode's works and who have helped secure his celebrated place in contemporary American writing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Ten stories treating instances of heightened memory and perception by men, usually fathers, as ordinary life goes on around them in the North Dakota, Montana, and northern plains, by masterful but inconsistent Woiwode (Indian Affairs, 1992, etc.). There is much here that's mawkish--and much that's emotionally clear and true. In ``Possession,'' the mawkish predominates: a sheep rancher whose toddler won't sleep irritably tries to imagine what the child might be afraid of, before it dawns on him that the boy's (rightly) afraid of the rancher's brooding, petty jealousy of the mother. In both ``Winter Insects'' and ``Blindness,'' men find themselves temporarily struck blind by a combination of overwork, heightened emotional sensitivity, and snowy, hazardous weather; each is brought to safety by his young daughter, but not before the author's use of the psychological motif of sight has been painfully belabored. And in ``Sleeping Over,'' a glimpse of a former lover's clothes drying on a line sets up a terrible longing in a midwestern boy whose future seems to be evaporating before his eyes; but the woman is so scantly characterized that it's hard for a reader to understand, much less empathize. In ``Owen's Father,'' though, Woiwode is closer to his best, subtly and brilliantly rendering the chilling effect on a young man of suddenly remembering childhood events, previously buried, shared with his dead father--including the days just before the father's suicide. Affecting memories also drive ``Black Winter,'' in which a 50-ish former philosophy professor who now lives on his grandfather's farm finds a new identity in pursuing his grandfather's old trade, and the beautiful (though slow-to-start) title story, in which a father comes to terms with the partial paralysis of his beloved nine-year-old son. The other entries here are sketches--a meditation on ``Confessionals'' and a rhapsody on oranges eaten during a 1940's childhood. A mixed bag--and rather downbeat. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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