The Middle of Nowhere Stories

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9780879053987: The Middle of Nowhere Stories

Book by Nelson, Kent

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Like his novel Language in the Blood (above), Nelson's second collection (The Tennis Player, 1977) is strong on place, especially the American Southwest. The best of the 13 stories here are heartbreakers about people who learn to understand that the world is not circumscribed by their prejudices or limitations. In ``Learning to Dream,'' Rose, unable to dream, decides to do something about it without telling husband Henry. She sees a doctor, learns sign language, opens her horizons, and, most importantly, spends a great deal of secretive time at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, sitting before a Goya canvas (``She was overjoyed that her own small existence was so blessed''). This kind of quiet epiphany is typical, but Nelson seldom overplays his hand. Of the Southwest stories, ``The Spirits of Animals'' brings together a motley group who go bowhunting for antelope; the narrator accepts an Indian woman's decision to clap her hands at a crucial moment, scaring off a potential kill, and then mediates a violent confrontation between the same woman and Wayne, who is ``interested in killing something.'' Without pressing his point, Nelson brings to bear both a delicate sense of interaction between disparate personalities and the seductiveness of a Native American meshing with nature. Likewise, in ``Yellow Flowers,'' a couple in the Boston suburbs panic when their son Davis, only eight, begins to disappear regularly from school. The parents follow the boy and discover that he likes to take flowers to a church and sit in a pew--this moment, with which the father sympathizes, makes the story. Most of these pieces work that way, at a slant, so that situation and setting are integral to character. A fine collection, as outstanding and various as Christopher Tilghman's acclaimed In a Father's Place. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Issued in tandem with Nelson's Language in the Blood (see above), this collection contains 13 finely honed tales, many of which have a Southwest locale. Emotions resonate within a mountainous desert setting--a hauntingly beautiful landscape for which Nelson has a nearly mystical affinity; and humans respond to the vulnerability of animals. The extraordinary title story centers on Steve, 17, a pensive dropout living with his widowed father in a trailer outside Tucson who shyly dodges the lures of his dad's girlfriends. In "The Trogon Dish," a tourist who has refused to buy a memento admired by his wife is moved by the plight of a dying dog. Macho hunters pick up two girls in a bar ("The Spirits of Animals"); one of them saves an antelope from the men's arrows. Males in predatory groups also figure in "The Tarpon Bet," in which three fishermen wager the catch of the day against their wives' favors, and in the stunning "Absences," about a deadly jail riot. Men are racked and baffled by the secret needs of the independent women they love in "Discoveries," in which outdoorsman Jack reads his literary girlfriend's journal, and in "Invisible Life," about a wife who leaves for Harvard. The author, however, is less successful in his exploration of female points of view ("I Had to Do Something" and "A Country of My Own Making"). Nelson's sensitively crafted fiction draws its strength from immersion in the natural scene, its intensity diminishing when he uses other backdrops.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Nelson, Kent
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