Reliable Light: Stories

Meredith Steinbach, Author Rutgers University Press $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1531-1
In this collection of seven stories, Steinbach ( Here Lies the Water ) again distinguishes herself as a writer of sensitivity and grace. The effect is of real voices and real situations, portrayed with scrupulous fidelity to human nature. In robustly simple and direct prose, Steinbach introduces characters who range from an old woman in a nursing home to a black doctor in a New England village. In ``To Be Sung on the Water,'' a woman visiting her mother's grave with her sister and young nephew is dismayed to find it sunken and filled with water. The boy's question, ``Why is your mama sleeping in that little lake?'' helps bring the protagonist to a moment of transcendent understanding. ``In Recent History'' observes the people whose lives have been profoundly affected by one man's experience in Vietnam, which he is tragically compelled to recreate. In the aftermath, the narrator occasionally glimpses the man and thinks, ``How strange and painful to see his face, as if he had not one terrible secret moment in his heart.'' Constructed with a quiet and effective craftsmanship, these tales range in tone from comic to tragic, displaying the diversity of Steinbach's interests and themes. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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