I know I've mentioned here how much I like Tony Earley's short stories. Somehow this most recent collection escaped my notice till a few days ago.
It didn't escape the Washington Post's notice -- they named it one of the top 50 fiction books for 2014. The NYT gave it a big writeup in the Sunday Book Review. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review --- how did I miss this when it came out last year? I must have been under a rock at the time.
The minute, I mean the very minute, I read about this book, I ordered a hard cover copy AT ONCE from Amazon. Then I decided to read the preview pages on line and started in on the opening story, "Haunted Castles of the Barrier Islands."
I was hooked. Tony E.'s voice is so perfect -- the characters are so real -- I couldn't leave them after the little taste the preview had given me. It would be days -- two or three at least -- before the book got here. So I did what any reasonable person would do -- sought instant gratification and ordered the e-book for my Kindle. And finished the book that night. The hardcover copy can stay nice and clean till some future date when I can get it autographed.
There are seven lovely stories in the collection -- several of which were first published in The New Yorker. One -- the enticingly quirky "Jack and the Mad Dog" -- I talked about in my post on METAFICTION. (I adore this extended tour de force of English major humor.)
Actually, I loved them all -- and loved the fact that places and characters tend to migrate from one story to another. And what characters they are -- a lonely young bride spies on her strange neighbor, a widow is visited by what may have been the Southern version of Bigfoot, the ghost of Jesse James is hiding in an old woman's basement in Nashville. . .
The writing is so, so perfect -- funny, sad, and beautiful -- that it kinda makes me want to cry. And start over and read right through again. Which I'm doing -- taking it slower, savoring every morsel...
Need I say, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED?