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Light Action in the Caribbean: Stories

Lopez, Barry Holstun;Lopez, Barry

231 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679434550 / ISBN 13: 9780679434559
Published by Alfred a Knopf, Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A., 2000
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Cross Genre Books (West linn, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

The dust jacket is unclipped ($22.00). First edition stated. Signed by the author on the title page. Bookseller Inventory # 000242

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Light Action in the Caribbean: Stories

Publisher: Alfred a Knopf, Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Moving from fable and historical fiction to contemporary realism, this book of stories from Barry Lopez is erotic and wise, full of irresistible characters doing things they shouldn't do for reasons that are mysterious and irreducible. In "The Letters of Heaven," a packet of recently discovered 17th-century Peruvian love letters presents a 20th-century man with the paralyzing choice of either protecting or exposing their stunning secret. When some young boys on the lookout for easy money get caught with a truckload of stolen horses, thievery quickly turns into redemption. For a group of convicts, a gathering of birds in the prison yard may be the key to transcendence, both figurative and literal. And, with the title story, Lopez enters a territory of unmitigated evil reminiscent of Conrad. Here are saints who shouldn't touch, but do; sinners who insist on the life of the spirit; a postcard paradise that turns into nightmare.

Light Action in the Caribbean has already been hailed by Russell Banks as "tough-minded, emotionally turbulent, and always intelligent." E. Annie Proulx describes these stories as "subtle and mysterious" and says that a reader "cannot leave Lopez's fictional territory unchanged." This is a book that breaks exciting new ground for Barry Lopez.


A reader can never know for certain how Barry Lopez constructs his stories. But they read as though their author first came up with some utterly compelling image, and the story fit itself around the image. Fans of the author's nature writing in Crossing Open Ground and Arctic Dreams will be pleased to find that often these images express human devotion to the land. In a kind of fantasy piece titled "In the Great Bend of the Souris River," a horseman, adrift in the countryside in North Dakota, encounters two other riders who "could be Cree." The three men ride across the prairie together. "I knew these people no better than two deer I might have stumbled upon, but I was comfortable with them, and the way we fit against the prairie satisfied me. I felt I could ride a very long way like this, absorbed by whatever it was we now shared, a kind of residency." In "Remembering Orchards," a character recalls with regret his orchardist stepfather whom he wishes he'd known better and who died "contorted in his bed like a root mass."

Lopez introduces other, more disturbing images here as well, perhaps most notably in the title story, wherein a woman travels with her boyfriend to a diving resort in the Caribbean. In a weird twist on J.D. Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," the trip ends in brutal bloodshed, which Lopez describes in chillingly affectless prose. The story contains this stunner of a sentence: "The first bullet tore through his left triceps, the second, third, fourth, and fifth hit nothing, the sixth perforated his spleen, the seventh and eighth hit nothing, the ninth hit the console, sending electrical sparks up, the tenth went through his right palm, the next four went into the air, the fifteenth tore his left ear away, the sixteenth ricocheted off the sixth cervical vertebra and drove down through his heart, exiting through his abdomen and lodging in his foot." There's no escape from Lopez's images; they come after us. --Claire Dederer

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