The War in Heaven

Kent Nussey, Author
Kent Nussey, Author Insomniac Press $13.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-895837-42-1
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Nussey (In Christ There Is No East or West and 1992 Black Warrior Award winner) delivers an enigmatic collection of stories that, at their best, balance the tough, everyday concerns of the Raymond Carver school with a delicate descriptive and emotional sensibility. Set in a flattened domestic landscape between urban sophistication and rural grotesque, Nussey's characters meander through food courts at the mall and hang around the house a lot, struck all the while by minor epiphanies, as frequent as ""the soft showers that seemed to come down in odd dashes... like some kind of April code."" Despite these writerly touches, Nussey sometimes has trouble bringing his characters' lives to the page, and Rosemary, the femme fatale who appears in three of the collection's eight stories, never lives up to the fascination that her various boyfriends feel for her. One has the sense that Nussey is writing around, rather than about, the sexual ambivalence that destroys her love affairs. But even these stories share with the much sadder, more moving ""The Art of the Possible"" Nussey's desperate, eloquent query: ""How to make any relationship work when nobody could agree on the meaning of the big feelings, the big occasions of the heart."" (Sept.)
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