Winged Creatures

Roy Freirich, Author . St. Martin’s Griffin $13.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-312-37895-0

The survivors of a gun massacre struggle with the aftermath in Freirich’s stark, impressive debut. After a gunman walks into Carby’s, a fast food chain restaurant along a Michigan highway, and kills two people before turning the gun on himself, a cross-section of society, including two teenagers, a driving instructor and a single mother emerge as survivors; their stories and viewpoints weave together for a tightly knit ensemble drama. Teenage Anne begins proselytizing religion after witnessing her father’s death at Carby’s, while her best friend, Jimmy—also a witness to the shooting—becomes mute after Anne makes him swear to not talk about her father. Driving instructor Charlie, wounded but alive, heads off to Vegas to test the luck that saved his life. Carla, a Carby’s waitress and mother of an infant son, loses her grip on motherhood as she fixates on Bruce Laraby, an ER doctor who missed the carnage by moments. Bruce, meanwhile, has deep doubts about his abilities to heal, revealed through increasingly macabre actions involving his wife. Psychologist Ron Abler, charged with helping victims of the violence, finds no one wants his help. While emotionally charged, the narrative isn’t weighed down with sentiment as the characters search for, but don’t necessarily find, closure. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
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