Home and family loom large in the nine stories collected in Spencer’s (Marilee) sixth collection. In almost every one, the departure or return of a character serves as a catalyst for action. “Sightings” begins with Mason Everett speculating a bit anxiously about a requested meeting with his adult daughter, Tabitha. A recently widowed, long-lost friend appears unexpectedly in “Return Trip.” In “The Boy in the Tree,” Wallace Harkins pays a surprise visit to his mother to try to straighten out the tension between her and his wife Jenny. Spencer has a special gift for the nuances in “ordinary” human relationships; she creates suspense via anticipation more than through interactions themselves. Place also figures prominently, with most stories set explicitly in small towns in the South, including in Spencer’s native Mississippi. She writes in a relaxed and engaged style, with a considerable amount of dialogue and multiple breaks in each story. In the short but affecting “The Everlasting Light,” a father is moved to unexpected but understandable tears by a small moment of communion with his young daughter. Spencer’s strength lies in highlighting human truths in captured moments. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/21/2013 Release date: 01/01/2014 Genre: Fiction
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