A Place of Light: Stories

Mary Bush, Author William Morrow & Company $18.95 (254p) ISBN 978-0-688-06255-2
In each of the 12 delicately limned stories in this powerful debut collection, Bush (1987 winner of the PEN/Nelson Algren award for best unfinished collection of short stories) captures the grim essence of her characters' struggles for survival in a relentlessly bleak and cruel world. The influence of Raymond Carver, Bush's mentor, is obvious, but she has stepped well clear of his shadow. Her narrators are often young girls whose deadpan revelations of abuse and deprivation are rendered in clear, cool prose. Most of the stories have rural settings and are about working-class people. In the title story, a broken-down car heralds the end of a bad relationship between a man and a woman; the narrator is one of her two children. In ``Rude Awakening,'' a girl who dreads First Communion hopes that the bomb will drop, the family would ``scramble for the fallout shelter. And then she wouldn't have to wear the radioactive dress.'' Bush's characters are alienated, but at the same time they yearn for connections. Each story reiterates this conflict; read together, these tales reveal the sure voice of a new writer with things to say. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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