By Land, by Sea: Stories

William Hoffman, Author Louisiana State University Press $16.95 (174p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1390-5
Self-doubt and the bitterness of loss are central to these 12 stories by a Southern writer whose novels include Godfires and The Land That Drank the Rain. Narrated in a variety of voicesfrom that of the fisherman's wife in ""Moorings'' to that of the rich manufacturer in ``Lover''they introduce the reader to men and women whose ordinary lives conceal baleful forces. In the extraordinary ``Landfall,'' an aging, sickly couple, having embarked on an apparently harmless sailing cruise, the last before their boat is sold, plough into an ice storm neither has the strength or will to battle. Seen through the eyes of his nephew, a tale-spinning ex-jailbird uncle is shown in ``Smoke'' to have lived according to a few fundamental truths that will shape the boy's life and render the man's petty lies insignificant. ``Indian Gift'' tells of a farmer whose unimpeachable honesty wavers when the crops fail and his tractor breaks down, threatening not only his livelihood but also the money for his son's college tuition. Finally, ``The Question of Rain'' is distilled into a profound query, as a minister denies the pleas of his drought-ridden parishioners to hold a special service to pray for rain. God will send rain without man's intervention, he argues, and then, wondering whether in his ministerial arrogance he has lost sight of the power of simple belief, he reverses himself. Although the prose is over-embellished with adjectives and inverted sentences, the author's honesty and compassion remain in the memory. (March)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
Paperback - 188 pages - 978-0-8071-2460-4
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