From the tense territory of a sagging, grand porch in Texas to a gated community in steamy Thailand to a lonely apartment in nondescript suburbia, these linked stories unwind the lives of three families as they navigate ever-shifting landscapes. Read more...
From the tense territory of a sagging, grand porch in Texas to a gated community in steamy Thailand to a lonely apartment in nondescript suburbia, these linked stories unwind the lives of three families as they navigate ever-shifting landscapes. Wry and sharp, dark and subversive, they keep watch as these characters make the choices that will change the course of their lives and run into each other in surprising, unforgettable ways.
The Bowmans are declining Texas gentry, heirs to an airline fortune, surrounded by a patriarch's stuffed trophies and lost dreams. They will each be haunted by the past as they strive to escape its force. The Fosters are diplomats' kids who might as well be orphans. Jill and Maizie grow up privileged amid poverty, powerless to change the lives of those around them and uncertain whether they have the power to change their own. The Guzmans have moved between Colombia and the United States for two generations, each seeking opportunity for the next, only to find that the American dream can be as crushing as it is elusive.
Amy Parker's debut collection considers--with an unfailingly observant eye--our failures and our successes, our fractures and our connections, our impact and our evanescence. She marks herself a worthy heir to the long tradition of smart women casting cool and careful glances at the American middle class.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
The monkeys, seals, elephants, pangolins, sunfish, and domestic pets of Parker's wonderful collection of linked stories offer sublime metaphors and splendid foils for the floundering adults, as prone to moments of astonishing cruelty as the beasts are to sudden vengeance. Characters include sisters Carline and Cissy Bowman, whose family spends a fortune to ransom the father out of Thailand in "The White Elephant"; another pair of sisters, Jill and Maizie, are daughters of diplomats stationed in Ching Mai, and who venture out of their compound in "Rainy Season." Other stories involve a road trip to catch a lover ("The Balcony"); Jill and Maizie visiting a Thai orphanage ("Endangered Creatures"), and Carline and Cissy dealing with memories of their mother's bout with cancer ("Catastrophic Molt"). More than the dissatisfied and guilty adults, Parker's sympathies lie with the children, who with preternatural calm and piercing devotion survive early formative ruptures that will haunt them. Parker's sentences are clear, polished, finely-faceted gems, the images incandescent and precise, the tone balanced between the hypnotic and the absurd. Drawing out the implacable connections between beauty and danger, between love and pain, each individual story delivers a final punch of surprise both unpremeditated and yet perfect, "whole and alive in the way that only children and animals seem to be." It's to Parker's credit that the collection feels as complete as a novel, a journey transporting readers from the exotic to the familiar, leaving them blinking, dry-mouthed, and changed. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Feb.)