The Least You Need to Know: Stories

Lee Martin, Author, Amy Bloom, Foreword by Sarabande Books $21.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-9641151-2-5
""When I was a boy,"" opens the title story in this accomplished debut collection, ""my father cleaned up crime scenes. Murders, suicides."" This is the starting point for many of these narratives: a teenage 1960s protagonist whose father is in the business of death and whose mother is a bit dreamy and dissatisfied. In ""Light Opera,"" Perry Sievers, an undertaker's child struggling to find a balance between his father's detachment and his own hot rebelliousness, is drawn into a beautiful and frightening act of petit larceny. The father in ""The End of Sorry"" is a strikebreaker at an abattoir, who unsuccessfully fights his wife's involvement with another man. There are exceptions to the pattern, notably ""The Price Is the Price,"" in which a Jewish father tries to come to terms with his estranged son, a pro wrestler. The most resonant story in the book is ""The Welcome Table,"" in which the Thibodeaux family, caught up in a cemetery scandal, flees to Tennessee seeking anonymity. Instead, father and son start training lunch-counter protesters by allowing them to practice nonviolent responses to verbal abuse, and the family gets caught up in a racial incident that threatens to divide them. Throughout the book, Martin's writing is sensitive and lucid, only occasionally veering into the florid. The characters he writes about are utterly real, if somewhat uniform (the fathers are tough and mysterious, the mothers have quirky hobbies like eggshell painting). But their concerns and joys are perfectly identifiable and voiced with passion. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Fiction

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Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-9641151-3-2
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-936747-08-5
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