cover image In the Snow Forest: Three Novellas

In the Snow Forest: Three Novellas

Roy Parvin. W. W. Norton & Company, $23.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-393-04977-0

Winter's imminence sets the tone for each of these three engaging, understated novellas probing the dreams of characters who seem to have run out of second chances. Set in the rugged landscapes of the Western U.S., they echo the rhythms of the land. Gibbs, the protagonist of ""Betty Hutton,"" is a recently paroled ex-con and former dealer of stolen antiques who drives a stolen car into Montana, trying to outrun his bad luck by changing his surroundings. Snowed in at an all-night poker game, he comes to an ""understanding of what his body could do and had done, the difference of what ran in his blood and resided in his heart."" In the title novella, another big man, Darby, is a taciturn logger in the mountains of Northern California. An injury to his shoulder has kept him in town while all the other men are off on a job. He finds himself ready to take a last chance at love with the saucy but weary Harper. But for Harper and her congenitally deformed child, it may already be too late. Lindsay, in ""Menno's Granddaughter,"" is the first wife of a recently deceased author. On a train ride east, she finds herself ill and stranded in the remote Wyoming town her husband ran off to years ago--with no one to help her but his second wife. Perhaps it's the place she meant to stop at all along to give her the strength to carry on with her life. Winner of the 1998 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, Parvin (The Loneliest Road in America) writes with economy and grace, plumbing the quiet depths of these strong but wounded people against the unforgiving vastness of a vividly evoked landscape. (Oct.)