cover image Grass Fires

Grass Fires

Dan Gerber. Clark City Press, $11.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-944439-09-8

Brainard, Mich., ``isn't the sticks. It's a place, a good place, and when I go back to Detroit, that's what seems strange to me,'' says the narrator of ``Yard Sale,'' the first story in Gerber's ( Out of Control ) striking collection. Local institutions--the Dinner Bell diner, Antonelli's (``the only restaurant in town with a liquor license''), Clark's apple juice factory--reappear, creating a setting that unifies the volume despite its wide assortment of characters. Some are well-educated, others not, but none are pretentious; they don't use big words and are comfortable saying whatever they feel. Death figures in all but two tales--in unusual, complicated forms. In the title story, a volunteer fireman has a heart attack on his way to a fire and crashes into his brother-in-law's funeral parlor; a deaf-mute begins the tale ``Conversation'' by stating flatly: ``I don't think I've really had a conversation with anyone since my father died.'' Love is always tinged here with compassion: the waitress who sleeps with the deaf-mute, the doctor who fails to save the life of his daughter's closest friend. (Sept.)