Dry Rain

Pete Fromm, Author Lyons Press $22.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-55821-554-2
Fallible, breakable human beings populate this noteworthy collection of stories by the author of Indian Creek Chronicles, which won the 1994 Northwest Booksellers Award. In 16 stories, Fromm matches the geographic landscape of the American West to the frailties and complexites of its inhabitants. His characters are rooted by family, but often long for something else. Fromm's images keep the stories focused, the strongest of which deal with the issue of safety. In ""Dutch Elm,"" a child gets lost in a cornfield while his father, the narrator, remembers the huge elms of his childhood and the black bands painted on their trunks to ward off disease. In ""Helmets,"" a worker about to be forced into early retirement is intrigued by a family of commuters wearing helmets, as they whiz by his bustop each morning. ""Concentrate"" is narrated by a woman in a trailer home looking to improve her family's life by marketing orange juice. In the background looms a poster of a baseball player sliding while the umpire makes the call with his hands: safe. The least successful stories--those that vary little in their narrative voice--are those presented as near-monologues. The world Fromm traces in these tales, though geographically specific, will be recognizable to all. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/03/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
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