cover image Volt: Stories

Volt: Stories

Alan Heathcock, Graywolf, $15 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-55597-577-7

Heathcock's impressive debut collection pursues modern American prairie characters through some serious Old Testament muck. If it's not flood or fire ravishing the village of Krafton, then it's fratricide, pedocide, or just plain ol' stranger killing. In the National Magazine Award–winning "Peacekeeper," middle-aged grocery store manager Helen Farraley becomes the town's first sheriff and cuts her teeth on a missing-child case. When snow tracks lead her to discover the girl's grim fate, Helen skirts the law so that "the unrighteous cause of her death [be] kept a gracious unknown." In "Smoke," the sins of the father visit 15-year-old Vernon when his war vet father drags him out of bed to cremate the man he's killed. In the suspenseful "The Daughter," we watch the sins drip down the maternal line, as well. Misery is in plentiful supply throughout these dark, thickly atmospheric tales of spiritual desolation and savagery. Fans of William Gay and Daniel Woodrell will savor these stories where sin and suffering shroud the hope of redemption. (Mar.)