In the Air

Robert Nichols, Author Johns Hopkins University Press $0 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8018-4195-8
In Nichols's ( Daily Lives in Nghsi-Altai ) stories, air is a paradox. Transparent and life-sustaining, it is also the medium of invisible messages and deadly toxins. Air belongs to everyone, yet control of it makes it the ultimate tool of subjection. In the title story, the U.S. military hides an airstrip in a small town. Although residents neither know the strip's purpose nor see its planes, they become aware of it. Eventually, a pilot agrees to take several civilians along on a surveillance mission over El Salvador. Invisible to the peasants below, the passengers and crew eavesdrop on the country, then return home--only to discover their own town is invisible to them. Here, as elsewhere, Nichols's spare prose takes mysterious, intriguing turns. In ``The Hostage'' a politically progressive couple opts out of society, ``since to live within the system was to contribute to the world's evil. . . . '' But their moral, self-reliant lifestyle is shattered when their son glimpses a mass of bodies washed up near their home, victims of the Bhopal disaster. Everyone, regardless of politics, is held captive by such strange and tragic transpirations ``in the air,'' as these fascinating stories suggest. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8018-4196-5
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