The Out-of-sorts

Gary Fincke

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - CAMILLE-YVETTE WELSCH

Van­dalia Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $24.99 (420pp) 978-1-943665-93-8

These sto­ries of­fer a vivid glimpse of the lives of Rust Belt in­hab­i­tants.

“Ev­ery­thing with a beat­ing heart knows when alone­ness has come to stay,” says a mar­ried woman liv­ing above the burn­ing core of Cen­tralia, Penn­syl­va­nia. She might as well be speak­ing to the many bro­ken and break­ing char­ac­ters in this col­lec­tion of new and se­lected sto­ries. Un­spar­ing, stark, and finely crafted, Gary Fincke’s prose evokes a Rust Belt liv­ing through its own col­lapse, ar­tic­u­lated by its in­hab­i­tants in di­a­logue that closely echoes the ru­ral places that rarely make the news.

Fincke writes about a young woman forced to threaten an in­truder with a shot­gun, a man in­tent on en­list­ing his step­son in a money-mak­ing crime, a mother who drowns her child, a hus­band who can’t see to drive in the dark, and a wife who be­lieves the road to be full of bod­ies wait­ing to be found.

Dark and un­set­tling, many of these sto­ries ex­plore the way men view women and the im­pact that has on re­la­tion­ships, from the ro­man­tic to the pa­ter­nal. Fincke writes across gen­ders with ease, cre­at­ing be­liev­able char­ac­ters of both sexes and across age brack­ets, though his char­ac­ters are al­most all work­ing-class.

These twenty-three sto­ries of­ten rely on di­a­logue for both char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and ex­po­si­tion, but Fincke’s care­fully tuned ear brings life to even the harsh­est of thoughts. Set­ting be­comes an es­sen­tial part of many sto­ries, cre­at­ing soli­tude for char­ac­ters in which they can be­come both threat­ened or threat­en­ing in turn, from a se­rial killer with buried bod­ies to a group of women park­ing to­gether out­side the mall. Few feel safe, and those who do of­ten cor­re­late safe with stuck.

This is no el­egy to bru­tal places. In­stead, Fincke writes char­ac­ters who ob­serve, try­ing to un­der­stand the think­ing that might set a man to killing his ex-wife or a teenage girl to drink­ing Drano. Finely drawn, swiftly paced, and au­then­ti­cally voiced, these sto­ries of­fer a vivid glimpse of the lives be­hind the win­dows of boarded-up towns and houses set back from the road.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.