cover image Search Party: Stories of Rescue

Search Party: Stories of Rescue

Valerie Trueblood. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61902-149-5

The diamond-sharp stories in Trueblood’s second collection dazzle. In “Think Not Bitterly of Me,” Abby watches the present-day docudrama of her childhood kidnapping in the 1930s and wonders, “If your life was just any old thing, what made you keep at it?” Despite the obstacles thrown in their way by fate (one character is knocked unconscious by her lover; another is stabbed by her mother; another fights cancer), Trueblood’s characters do keep at it, searching not for meaning or answers, but simply for rest. As a young home health aide helping a 39-year-old man with MS puts it, “Your life was there, like your fingerprint, inescapable.” Yet moments of connection and grace constitute the rescue referred to in the subtitle, such as when ex-cop and school security officer Dooley talks a student out of shooting himself, in “Downward Dog”; and when a widower comes to accept his son’s disabled girlfriend Guadalupe, a woman “of whom he had been told and not told,” because her vulnerability matches his own, in “Guatemala.” Trueblood (Marry or Burn) tells these stories from unusual angles, with precision and a depth of insight and empathy that enfold the reader into the characters’ lives. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (June)