cover image The Loneliest Road in America

The Loneliest Road in America

Chronicle Books, Roy Parvin. Chronicle Books, $11.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1435-5

Life in a small town in the rugged, lush and soaring Trinity Mountains of Northern California is the canvas for these breathtaking short stories. Whether the author is talking about a famous author forced to return from Alaska to speak at his estranged brother's funeral, or a game warden who lives the double life of a pelt-poaching, closeted homosexual, Parvin's stories possess a lyrical, mesmerizing quality, hypnotizing in its sweeter moments, haunting when bitter. But the delicately spun prose never takes away from the fact that these are stories about everyday people on the rough edge of civilized life. Parvin's characters confront head-on the deaths of loved ones, the destruction of dreams, and continue on with their lives as best they can. A violent youth who escapes a sadistic foster parent finds understanding in the company of a former semipro baseball player, now a crippled hermit living in a rundown shack. A married couple from San Francisco flee the city and a random infidelity (""Any man could buy flowers like the spray of dahlias and baby tears Edward had bought her. But Harry, he was the kind of man who... built window boxes to put them in""), rescue a bear and stumble across redemption in a tale that's at once poignant and witty. Whether offering salvation or searing pain, Parvin captures real life in these fleeting pages: an unforgettable collection, an awe-inspiring debut. (Jan.)