Limbo River

Rick Hillis, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $22.5 (142p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3653-4
This fine debut collection of stories, winner of the 1990 Drue Heinz Prize, is set largely in central and western Canada, but is not regionalist in flavor. Having gazed into the strangely impassive eye of a pig being butchered, the schoolteacher in ``The Eye'' is plagued by intrusive dreams and loses the ability to make eye contact. Not all the characters in these nine stories can identify the sources of the massive psychological blocks they live with, but the struggle of blunted sensibilities against fierce or whimsical destructive forces is a common theme. Hillis maneuvers well in his chosen fictional milieu of redneck pipefitters, deer hunters and neglected children, yet readers may find it easy to separate themselves from the pain of characters--partly due to a pervading element of farce, and partly because an indulgent sense of poetic justice directs the worst of the devastation against the more obnoxious characters. Nonetheless, in rich and figurative language so controlled that it at times seems terse, the author considers human behavior with empathy and impressive depth. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 978-0-7710-4098-6
Paperback - 978-0-88001-315-4
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