Back Before World Turned Nasty(p)

Pauline Mortensen, Author University of Arkansas Press $10 (107p) ISBN 978-1-55728-105-0
The stories in this first collection--mainly vignettes of the Sanderson family--loosely form a novella. Brothers and sisters share a hardscrabble background and dubious future. Their home--a ranch in the Idaho mountains--is crumbling, eroded by their deceased father's sale of acres of their property, by the renegade course of the river that bounds their remaining land, and by the violence-prone drifters and dropouts who now populate the mountains. The Sandersons react variously--fighting, acquiescing or, in the case of the narrator, maintaining an ironic detachment. Cumulatively, Mortensen's tales evoke an uneasy contemporary America where rapid, threatening change has become the norm for too many of its citizens. But only in a few stories, such as ``Side Effects,'' about the family caring for their dying mother, is the drab, pessimistic atmosphere leavened by an artistry that is unsentimental, and rich in love and sly humor. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Hardcover - 107 pages - 978-1-55728-104-3
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