The Mountains Won't Remember Us: And Other Stories

Robert Morgan, Author Peachtree Publishers $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56145-049-7

As the title here implies, mountains are indomitable; they exist outside of human history. But the first-person narrators of these 11 stories, shadowed by the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are not to be deterred from declaiming individual ``oral histories'' that reflect their need for their lives to be remembered. Sometimes their tales intersect with public events, such as the building of a bridge in the 19th century (``Poinsett's Bridge'') or the massacre of Indians (``Watershed''). Others concentrate on the strictly personal--a contemporary woman seethes over her husband's infidelity (``Frog Level''), and another, keeping a deathbed vigil, reflects on her retarded great-aunt's life (``Death Crown''). Story by story, Morgan (a poet and author of the fiction collection The Blue Valleys ) reveals how the mountains outreach the progress of each generation. Only in the final work, the title entry, does the narrator come to understand the relationship of the landscape to those who dwell within it and, therefore, the careful equations that balance memory and endurance. Morgan brings authenticity to the varied periods he describes, and he gifts his characters with seeming spontaneity and depth. (June)