The Venus Tree

Michael Pritchett, Author University of Iowa Press $0 (129p) ISBN 978-0-87745-220-1
Set in Midwestern states, these 10 stories by the winner of the 1988 Raymond Carver Short Fiction Award offer perspectives on lives that encounter and surmount life's obstacles. This endurance is explicit in a strongly realized story, ``The Barrel Racer,'' centering on two womenone an abandoning wife who visits her middle-aged brother Henry in Medicine Bow, Wyo., the other a woman who trains barrel horses but forgoes her independence for Henry. In ``Trinity,'' a man struggles with his wife even after her death, ``to bring their views into the same latitudinal line,'' while he rejects the offer of a living woman. Sexuality is a commodity in ``Open Twenty-Four Hours,'' where a pubescent eighth-grader is the object of her stepfather's concern. In the title narrative, the consonance between myth and reality is acted out with lyrical undertones in a love story set in a seedy menage. In these tales, many of them imbued with the ambiance of this country's heartland, the strivings of ordinary people are viewed in an empathetic, if sometimes enigmatic, dimension. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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