Under the Light: Stories

Sam Michel, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19 (176p) ISBN 978-0-394-58723-3
Rebutting the vision of an American West of boundless possibilities, these 15 stories, written in lean, muscular prose, conjure a constricted landscape where graffiti defaces the bark of the aspens and where the townsfolk make bets over whether or not magpies feeding on dead coyotes' innards will get run over by 18-wheelers. In the title story, Harry Drake, the book's tough yet vulnerable protagonist, wistfully recalls playing backyard baseball with his plucky mother. Harry is a man in search of self in a rootless America. Several pieces evoke his adolescence; in other stories a grown-up Harry filches coins from elderly women gamblers at the casino where he works, or confronts his 12-year-old son, who has a drinking problem. ``Willows,'' a powerful gothic tale, concerns an old colonel's secret doings with a misshapen boy who may be a hermaphrodite. While some of the stories lack depth and others suffer from an arty stream-of-consciousness mode, this is, on balance, a promising debut by a Western writer with a real feel for his home territory. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-936873-63-0
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