cover image Earthquake Weather

Earthquake Weather

Catherine Ryan Hyde. Russian Hill Press, $19.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-0-9653524-7-5

Each of the 18 stories in this strong collection by Hyde (Funerals for Horses) holds a dangerous emotional temptation for its protagonist. Often, they arrive in strange towns out West fresh from funerals or breakups, eager to avoid another broken heart. In the first story, a woman discovers that her married lover has suddenly died and left her to care for his emotionally needy and very dangerous dog. Trying to kick her addiction to both Valium and sex, the protagonist of another story finds, albeit fleetingly, a ""guardian angel"" who will actually be faithful to his wife rather than sleep with her. ""I'm always fighting motion sickness,"" she remarks, as could any of Hyde's desert drifters and recovering souls. These roughed-up characters put us in mind of Raymond Carver's, while the smell of hungry desperation that seeps through the work recalls the stories of Joyce Carol Oates. Indeed, Hyde does not seem yet to have hit on a voice entirely her own, save when she uses irony for humorous effect, as in the story ""Mrs. Mulvaney, the Grasshopper God,"" in which the narrator wonders whether insects react to the cutting of her grass as humans do after war: ""Stand among the corpses and the rubble asking, `Why, god? Why?'"" Hyde's ability to fix our attention fully to each piece bodes well for future work. (Mar.)