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Coronado: Stories (P.S.)by Dennis Lehane
Synopses & Reviews
From Dennis Lehane, the award-winning author of Mystic River, Shutter Island, and the Kenzie-Gennaro series, comes a striking collection of five short stories and a play.
A small southern town gives birth to a dangerous man with a broken heart and a high-powered rifle....
A young girl, caught up in an inner-city gang war, crosses the line from victim to avenger....An innocent man is hunted by government agents for an unspecified crime.
...A boy and a girl fall in love while ransacking a rich man's house during the waning days of the Vietnam War....A compromised psychiatrist confronts the unstable patient he slept with....A father and a son wage a lethal battle of wits over the whereabouts of a stolen diamond and a missing woman....Along with completely original material, this new collection is a compilation of the best of Dennis Lehane's previously published short stories, including "Until Gwen," which was adapted for the stage in 2005 and appears in this book as the play Coronado.
At turns suspenseful, surreal, romantic, and tragically comic, these tales journey headlong into the heart of our national myths — about class, gender, freedom, and regeneration through violence — and reveal that the truth waiting for us there is not what we'd expect.
"Lehane (Mystic River) hints in the first of these five richly vernacular (and, save one, previously published) stories and one play that 'a small town is a hard place to keep a secret.' In 'Running Out of Dog,' two Vietnam vets return to their hometown of Eden, S.C., and become tragically entangled with the wife of a man whose rich family kept him out of the war. Class resentment similarly erupts in 'Gone Down to Corpus,' set in back-water Texas, 1970, as a group of high school football players breaks into the house of rich kid Lyle, who fumbled the big pass at the last game. They drunkenly wreck the house and are shocked by the appearance of Lyle's younger sister, Lurlene, who is eager to join the party. The collection's centerpiece is 'Until Gwen,' which has also been adapted by Lehane into a two-act play, Coronado. Transcribed, the play revolves around the edgy reunion of a hustler father and his son, Bobby, newly released after four years in prison. It quickly becomes apparent that Bobby's father has retrieved him only to find out where the heist loot is hidden, and Bobby, in turn, needs to know what happened to his girlfriend, Gwen. Powerfully envisioned lives, recounted unflinchingly. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The raw, surprising tales of passion and violence in Dennis Lehane's new collection remind us anew why he is one of the most interesting young writers in America today. Lehane first gained wide attention in 2001 with the publication of 'Mystic River,' his powerful story of murder and revenge in a working-class Boston neighborhood. 'Mystic River' drew heavily on Lehane's roots in Boston's Dorchester... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) community, where he was born in 1965 to two Irish immigrants. Soon after he started school, the nuns told his mother how much the boy loved reading, and she began taking him to the public library. Thus, not for the first time, a writer was born. In the early 1990s, Lehane was a graduate writing student in Florida. He and his classmates were mostly churning out literary short stories, but he had grown up enjoying the work of Boston's Robert B. Parker, and one day, for a lark, he started a detective novel. The lark became 'A Drink Before the War' (1994), which introduced Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, sometime lovers and partners in a Boston private investigations firm. It was the first of five Kenzie-Gennaro thrillers, all distinguished by dazzling prose and horrific violence. The Kenzie-Gennaro books were increasingly successful — Bill Clinton was a fan — and taken on their own terms, they were brilliant, but their carnage was such that they were not likely to attract a big, mainstream audience. Readers who admired Lehane's obvious gifts wondered if he shouldn't raise his sights. He was wondering that, too, and as the new century began he put his series aside to write a novel about a tragedy in a blue-collar Boston neighborhood. Leaving a successful series was a gamble, but it paid off. For anyone who cares about good writing, to move from the Kenzie-Gennaro books to 'Mystic River' is like exiting a funhouse into a world so real that it hurts. It's one of the best American novels of this young century, its excellence underscored by Clint Eastwood's Academy Award-winning film version in 2003. After the triumph of 'Mystic River,' Lehane wrote a clever, deceptive little thriller, 'Shutter Island' (2003), which he has called a homage to Gothic novels and B-movies, and he's at work on a long novel that will, in part, concern the Boston police strike of 1919. While we await its arrival, we have this vivid new collection, 'Coronado' — the title, like 'El Dorado' or 'Shangri-La,' refers to a paradise that the losers in these stories can dream of but never attain. The collection is uneven, but nothing Lehane writes is without interest. Three of the stories are enjoyable but minor, two are substantial, and the play is an angry, violent, sometimes shocking piece that I would walk several miles to see performed. Although all seven of Lehane's novels are set in or near Boston, three of these stories focus on the lives of aimless people in small towns in Texas, West Virginia and South Carolina. The first major story, 'Running Out of Dog,' which opens the volume, is classic white-trash noir. In Eden, S.C., Vietnam vet Elgin Bern works construction and carries on a torrid affair with a car dealer's wife. He also tries to keep track of his crazy, violent friend Blue, who has long worshiped the car dealer's wife from afar: 'Elgin never bothered telling Blue that some women didn't want decency. Some women didn't want a nice guy. Some women, and some men too, wanted to get in bed, turn out the lights, and feast on each other like animals until it hurt to move.' Blue is consoled by a job shooting wild dogs that are tarnishing the town's progressive image. In the end, some people are put down as heartlessly as the dogs. In 'Gone Down to Corpus,' three West Texas boys decide to beat up a rich classmate who dropped a pass that caused them to lose a football game and their meager chances of winning college scholarships. Instead, finding no one at home, they trash the boy's house, only to have his younger sister arrive and complicate matters. The story doesn't go anywhere, but it's a chilling evocation of empty lives in an empty landscape. In the other major story, 'Until Gwen,' first published in the Atlantic in 2004, a career criminal picks up his son when the son is released from prison. The father demands a missing diamond. The son thinks the father murdered the son's girlfriend while trying to find the diamond, and it becomes clear that one of the men is going to kill the other. It's a tough little tale that Lehane originally dashed off for a crime anthology, but he didn't leave it there. As Lehane explains in an introduction, his brother Gerry is an actor, and he decided to expand the two-person, father-and-son short story into a more ambitious two-act play, 'Coronado,' which was produced off-Broadway last year with Gerry as the no-good father. In the play, the story of the father and son is combined with those of two pairs of lovers who are also bent on homicide. It's a raw, passionate, mysterious piece, enhanced by sophisticated stage techniques and bitter humor. If you've never read Lehane, you probably should start with 'Mystic River,' but if you're already a fan, you'll savor this new glimpse into one of the most unpredictable minds in current American fiction." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Hardcore fans may object to the fact that the latest work from suspense master Dennis Lehane involves short stories instead of serial killers. But a wide streak of Lehane's vivid and melancholy darkness winds through this mean, gripping collection." Miami Herald
"Lehane took a risk somewhat uncommon to successful novelists by writing a short-story collection. Some writers are able to make the transition seamlessly — Hemingway, Richard Ford and Francine Prose come to mind...and we can add Lehane to that literary canon with Coronado, a great read by any standard." Hartford Courant
"Far worse is done in these stories than simple murder, and that's what enlivens Lehane's books." Rocky Mountain News
"Tough-as-nails crime fiction transcends genre in this first collection....[A] knockout performance. An impressive step forward for a writer of commanding gifts, who seems poised on the threshold of even greater accomplishment." Kirkus Reviews
"Dennis Lehane has a startling capacity for assessing broken people — i.e., who can be restored to the fold of humanity and who should be put down like animals. These five stories are filled with hard cases... (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A]n apt reminder that the master of crime and literary fiction is also a proficient short-story writer....And who better to entertain the newcomer to the genre than an author whose stories make us dig deep down into our own hopes and fears." USA Today
Along with completely original material, this new collection is a compilation of the best of Dennis Lehane's previously published short fiction, including "Until Gwen," which was adapted for the stage in 2005 and appears in this book as the play Coronado. By turns suspenseful, surreal, romantic, and tragically comic, these powerful tales journey headlong into the heart of our national myths—and reveal that the truth awaiting us there is not what we would expect.
From Lehane, the award-winning author of "Mystic River" and "Shutter Island" comes a brilliant collection of five short stories and a play. At turns suspenseful, surreal, romantic, and tragically comic, these tales journey headlong into the myths about class, gender, freedom, and violence.
About the Author
Dennis Lehane is the author of A Drink Before the War, which won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel; Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; and the New York Times bestsellers Mystic River and Shutter Island. A native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, he lives in the Boston area.
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