Dorris ( A Yellow Raft in Blue Water ) offers 14 carefully etched portraits of just plain American folk puzzling through their roles as parents, children, husbands, wives, neighbors, friends and, as the title says, working men (and women). Not macabre, sensational or faddish, his stories are propelled by the persistent, half-spoken tension between the characters' everyday existence and their greater aspirations. In commonplace surroundings--a yard sale, a front room, a roadside Sheraton--Dorris's people meet with unexpected and often unwelcome epiphanies that jar their lives into perplexing clarity. Even the most secure ties to family and home begin to unravel when protagonists face themselves or when they feel a call to wander to that peculiarly American destination--no place in particular. Dorris has an uncanny ear for the ways people derive self-definition and consolation from the routines of labor and social convention--consider the simple attestation of the narrator of ``The Benchmark,'' reflecting on the empty years after his son's drowning in the pond he built with his own hands: ``every hour occupied, and I did quality work.'' No journeyman himself, Dorris displays his craftsmanship in each edgy, understated tale of this first-rate collection. 50,000 first printing; author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993 Release date: 10/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
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