Home at Last

Jean McGarry, Author Johns Hopkins University Press $32.5 (136p) ISBN 978-0-8018-4852-0
The author of two previous story collections, Airs of Providence and The Very Rich Hours , and the novel The Courage of Girls , Jean McGarry returns to tired, gray Providence and its people for Home at Last , her third collection. Unfortunately, the stories read as if the author is tired, too. Or maybe she's been away a while and is apprehensive about her return home. The stories lack action and immediacy of plot, forgoing the book's never-ending litany of dull homecomings and quick funerals. Family members drop dead in nearly every story. In ``Odds,'' the narrator's father suffers a heart attack, while her favorite uncle dies ``suddenly and painfully,'' but there is no reaction depicted, no remorse. Emotions aren't muted in these stories; they're skirted. The author lets her characters dwell in the safe reveries of their pasts, leaving the reader to make sense of what little happens in the present. Nearly everyone in Home at Last is like Uncle Jack (``Mr. & Mrs. Bull''): ``What he had to work to forget . . . was not mistakes or the business failure--it was home.'' Returning home is the recurring theme of this collection of stories, but most often by the time we get there we find what we feared all along--we're ready to leave again. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-0-8018-4853-7
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