Strategies Against Extinction

Michael Nye. Queen's Ferry (www.queens-%E2%80%A8ferrypress.com), $14.95 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-1-938466-00-7
A sense of loss suffuses the keenly observed stories of Nye's debut collection. In "The Re-Creationist," a Cincinnati baseball announcer is on the verge of separating from his wife and son, who collects baseball cards, when he learns his contract will not be renewed. In the very strong "A Fully Imagined World," a laid-off lawyer is briefly separated from his two-year-old daughter in a museum, then is forced to confront the irretrievable loss of his youth when a woman with whom he had a college fling doesn't recognize him. In "The Utility Room," a young, newly divorced woman rents space in her empty house to a couple for the express purpose of adultery. In "Union Terminal," while the irascible ex-con father of two sons, one self-made and one aimless, considers having heart surgery that may not save him, his sons contemplate their vivid past and uncertain future. In "Keep," the 64-page final story, a successful executive realizes his mentally-ill brother means more to him than his failing marriage. Not all stories involve loss; in the inventive but absolutely believable "Sparring Vladimir Putin," a Clinton-era U.S. diplomat defeats the Russian in a judo match.Although characters are often bewildered and bereft, these stories aren't bleak. Nye holds his characters in sharp focus, and their emotional lives are rigorously yet sympathetically observed. (Oct. 2)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
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