cover image Gallatin Canyon: Stories

Gallatin Canyon: Stories

Thomas McGuane, . . Knopf, $24 (220pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4156-5

McGuane returns to the territories of his novels (Some Horses , etc.) in this collection of stories set in Montana, Michigan and Florida. Most of the characters are older, divorced and still looking for attachment but without much hope of love. They are alcoholics (in "Vicious Circle" and "The Refugee"), junkies ("Northcoast"), low-grade ex-cons ("The Cowboy"), embezzlers ("Old Friends"), disconnected fathers ("The Zombie" and "Aliens") and lackluster ordinary men. In the title story, an unnamed smalltimer sets out on a business trip down the winding Gallatin Canyon, Mont., road with his girlfriend, Louise. He conducts his business dealings with phony bluster and indecision, humiliating himself in the eyes of this woman he hopes to marry; things get worse from there. Any attempts these characters make to draw happiness back into their lives backfires clumsily, pushing it further from their grasp. McGuane's sentences still have a playful quality, but the prevailing dreariness ("I wish I could feel something," exclaims Louise) is something other than inspiring. (July 11)