cover image The New Valley

The New Valley

Josh Weil, . . Grove, $24 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1891-2

Weil's debut is a stark and haunting triptych of novellas set in the rusted-out hills straddling the border between the Virginias. In “Ridge Weather,” Osby, a hardscrabble cattle rancher, finds himself lonely and isolated after his father's suicide. In the aftermath he struggles to make some sort of a personal connection in increasingly desperate attempts to be needed by someone. In “Stillman Wing,” the elderly Charlie Stillman, afraid of his own mortality, tries to reinvigorate his life by stealing and reconditioning a tractor, all the while maintaining a relationship with his obese, promiscuous daughter and coming to terms with the death of his barnstormer parents. “Sarverville Remains,” takes the form of a letter from Geoffrey Sarver, a mildly retarded orphan, to an incarcerated man whose wife he has fallen in love with, and takes on the elements of a well-told crime story. All three pieces, despite their somber tones, offer renewal for their protagonists. Taken individually, each novella offers its own tragic pleasures, but together, the works create a deeply human landscape that delivers great beauty. (June)