Strangers to Temp­ta­tion

Scott Gould

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Hub City Press Soft­cover $16.95 (216pp) 978-1-938235-30-6

The sto­ries in this col­lec­tion are funny, of­ten poignant, and not eas­ily for­got­ten.

The thir­teen com­ing-of-age sto­ries in Scott Gould’s ter­rific col­lec­tion, Strangers to Temp­ta­tion, share a com­mon nar­ra­tor remembering his teenage years in South Carolina’s Low­coun­try. He’s a smart kid, but there’s a lot he doesn’t un­der­stand. Where does his fa­ther go when he leaves home for a few days? How can he get a girl to like him? The events de­scribed be­long to the boy, but the wis­dom is the man’s.

Char­ac­ters are de­scribed with hu­mor and com­pas­sion. In “Or­bit,” Lon­nie, the boy across the street, has his face re­con­structed af­ter jump­ing off of a bridge into the cola-col­ored river that runs through town. Ev­ery­one knows to wait un­til af­ter a rain to jump off the bridge, but “Lon­nie’s im­pa­tience over­came his good sense one af­ter­noon that sum­mer, and he took a Ken­more to the right side of his head.”

Fam­ily se­crets and sex­ual awak­en­ing, and poverty and racism are threaded through the book. “Bases” il­lus­trates an emo­tional truth be­hind seg­re­ga­tion where hos­til­ity masks de­sire. The tall, black boy who throws a stone at a Lit­tle League player in the be­gin­ning of the story—a league closed to the black boys who live across the tracks—sneaks onto the field one night and plays all the po­si­tions. Af­ter hit­ting an imag­i­nary home run, he rounds the bases and waves to the crowd.

The book’s ti­tle comes from the story “Mathew­mark­luke­and­john.” The names of the gospels are screamed by the town’s men­tally chal­lenged boy as he ar­rives at Va­ca­tion Bi­ble School where the teacher is dis­cussing temp­ta­tion. Per­haps it’s the sear­ing heat of the hot sum­mers, but the town’s res­i­dents feel beaten down, their wrongs smoothed over. It’s Miss Angie, the timid VBS teacher, who finds her voice and leaves town.

In “Stand-in Je­sus,” the nar­ra­tor’s skinny fa­ther, a Viet­nam vet who re­turned home with

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.