Heathcliff Redux and Other Stories

Lily Tuck. Atlantic Monthly, $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4759-2
National Book Award–winner Tuck (The News from Paraguay) probes the gulf between expectations and reality as well as between outward appearances and internal disquiet in this collection of four short stories and a novella. The title novella is set in 1963, in the months leading up to the Kennedy assassination. In the horse-riding, fox-hunting milieu of Albemarle County, Va., the wealth and privilege of white residents heighten a sense of insularity and innocence that, as readers know and Tuck hints at, will soon be shattered. The unnamed narrator, a young mother of twin boys and confined to a comfortable but stifling marriage, embarks on an affair with the sexy but un-intellectual Cliff. Meanwhile, she’s rereading Wuthering Heights, and Tuck’s measured prose contrasts its matter-of-factness with the passionate overtones of Brontë’s original. The accompanying stories also showcase the author’s mastery of shorter form fiction. “Labyrinth Two” imagines the interiority of the subjects in a 1950s photograph. The remaining stories have more contemporary settings: “The Dead Swan” finds a young woman heartbreakingly optimistic about her addict boyfriend’s hopes for recovery, while “A Natural State” unfolds largely through emails. In what might be the most gut-wrenching story, “Carl Schurz Park” finds a young man, newly married and about to become a father, hiding a horrific secret from his youth. Tuck’s restrained and elegant stories deceptively carry a deep emotional heft. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/31/2019
Release date: 02/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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