My Father's War and Other Stories

Barton Sutter, Author Viking Books $19.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-83777-9
Poet Sutter ( Pine Creek Parish Hall ) makes a compelling fiction debut with this collection of stories about bonds within male communities. His characters are ordinary Midwesterners whose otherwise unremarkable lives are touched by a moment of raw clarity and truth. In the title novella, a father recounts his experiences as a soldier in World War II to his sons, who had been Vietnam War protesters. The older man's revealing tale forges fraternal links among himself, his sons and past generations of warriors and peace-lovers. In ``Happiness'' three young men on a camping trip narrowly escape death and share an appreciation of their love and friendship. Sutter lays bare the depths of the human experience with economy and precision. Looking back on his mother's slow surrender to cancer, a young man's tremendous guilt and loss are conveyed in a simple recollection: ``She wanted kisses, but he was horrified by her breath.'' The five stories offer leisurely exposition and character development; though some are drawn out too long, their honesty and sensitivity will resonate. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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