The Best Revenge

Rebecca Rule, Author
Rebecca Rule, Author University Press of New England $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-87451-702-6
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-61168-518-3
Open Ebook - 210 pages - 978-1-299-67917-7
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-58465-373-8
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``Hardscrabble'' is not only the name of the imprint, but also a good description of the lives of many of the protagonists of these stories, some of which appeared in the author's first collection, Wood Heat: Stories from Up North (Nightshade Press). Here is the stuff of classic New England life: small-town politics (``the last of the blood sports''), feuds between lakefront neighbors, a rain-soaked Little League game, checking trap lines in midwinter. Rule has an unerring ear for idiom and inflection, and her characters' voices are spot-on, whether they're the participants in a school district meeting in the wickedly funny opener, ``Yankee Curse''; a phlegmatic old loner who meets his match in the rueful ``The Widow and the Trapper''; or the child narrators of the poignant ``Three'' and ``MaryMay's Eyes.'' The best of the stories finish on an unexpected yet thoroughly satisfying note. However, some of those at book's end, particularly ``Saturday Night at the Hi-View Drive-In,'' ``Bonfire'' and ``The White Room,'' seem to just stop mid-beat, making them more like character studies or fragments of longer works than self-contained pieces. Still, this is a solid offering from a graceful and versatile writer. (Sept.)
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