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Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want Itby Maile Meloy
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning writer Maile Meloy's return to short stories explores complex lives in an austere landscape with the clear-sightedness that first endeared her to readers.
Meloy's first return to short stories since her critically acclaimed debut, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It is an extraordinary new work from one of the most promising writers of the last decade.
Eleven unforgettable new stories demonstrate the emotional power and the clean, assured style that have earned Meloy praise from critics and devotion from readers. Propelled by a terrific instinct for storytelling, and concerned with the convolutions of modern love and the importance of place, this collection is about the battlefields — and fields of victory — that exist in seemingly harmless spaces, in kitchens and living rooms and cars. Set mostly in the American West, the stories feature small-town lawyers, ranchers, doctors, parents, and children, and explore the moral quandaries of love, family, and friendship. A ranch hand falls for a recent law school graduate who appears unexpectedly — and reluctantly — in his remote Montana town. A young father opens his door to find his dead grandmother standing on the front step. Two women weigh love and betrayal during an early snow. Throughout the book, Meloy examines the tensions between having and wanting, as her characters try to keep hold of opposing forces in their lives: innocence and experience, risk and stability, fidelity and desire.
Knowing, sly, and bittersweet, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It confirms Maile Meloy's singular literary talent. Her lean, controlled prose, full of insight and unexpected poignancy, is the perfect complement to her powerfully moving storytelling.
"Meloy (Liars and Saints) hits some high notes in these stories of people juggling conflicting emotions with varying shades of success. In 'The Children,' a man's resolve to leave his wife for his now-grown children's former swimming instructor is unexpectedly 'doomed to ambivalence and desire' when he's confronted by the comforting 'habit of his marriage.' Marital tensions are also at the heart of 'O Tannenbaum,' in which a couple, while hunting for a Christmas tree with their daughter, pick up a stranded couple whose bickering casts into relief the cracks in their own relationship. Other pieces focus on loneliness, as in the opening story about a young ranch hand's efforts to connect with a lawyer moonlighting as a night-school teacher, or as in 'Agustn,' where an elderly widower yearns for a lost, illicit lover. Meloy's characters frequently leave each other or let each other down, and it is precisely that — their vulnerabilities, failures and flaws — that make them so wonderful to follow as they vacillate between isolation and connection. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A former prison guard and talented fiddler returns to his Montana hometown to bury his wife and confront the inmate who, twenty years ago, held him hostage during a prison riot.
From the author who penned The Wake of Forgiveness, ten remarkable stories that tackle what it means to be a man.
From the critically acclaimed author of The Wake of Forgiveness—“a mesmerizing, mythic saga,” as described by the New York Times—come ten remarkable stories that uncover unexpected beauty in the struggles of the modern American male.
Like Richard Russo, Bruce Machart has a profound knowledge of the male psyche and a gift for conveying the absurdity and brutality of daily life with humor and compassion. Whether they find themselves walking the fertile farmland of south Texas, steering trucks through the suffocating sprawl of Houston, or turning logs into paper in the mills just west of the Sabine River, the men of these stories seek to prove themselves in a world that doesnt always welcome them. Here are men whose furrows are never quite straight and whose hearts are near to bursting with all the desires they have been told they arent supposed to heed.
“Bruce Machart is one of our most ambitious and fearless young writers. With Men in the Making, he has composed a remarkable paean to the complex fragility of the American male. I read these stories in a state of tender amazement.”—Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life
A tense Western and an assured debut, Black River tells the story of a man marked by a prison riot as he returns to the town, and the convict, who shaped him.
When Wes Carver returns to Black River, he carries two things in the cab of his truck: his wifes ashes and a letter from the prison parole board. The convict who held him hostage during a riot, twenty years ago, is being considered for release.
Wes has been away from Black River ever since the riot. He grew up in this small Montana town, encircled by mountains, and, like his father before him and most of the men there, he made his living as a Corrections Officer. A talented, natural fiddler, he found solace and joy in his music. But during that riot Bobby Williams changed everything for Wes — undermining his faith and taking away his ability to play.
How can a man who once embodied evil ever come to good? How can he pay for such crimes with anything but his life? As Wes considers his own choices and grieves for all hes lost, he must decide what he believes and whether he can let Williams walk away.
With spare prose and stunning detail, S. M. Hulse drops us deep into the heart and darkness of an American town.
About the Author
BRUCE MACHART is the author of The Wake of Forgiveness. His fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, Story, One Story and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Best Stories of the American West. A graduate of the MFA program at Ohio State University, Machart is Assistant Professor of English at Bridgewater State University, and he lives in Hamilton, Massachusetts.
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