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Ordinary Genius (Flyover Fiction)by Thomas Fox Averill
Synopses & Reviews
Falling under the spell of these short stories by O. Henry Award-winning author Thomas Fox Averill, a reader might well wonder: What in the world is ordinary? If there really are “just plain folks” anywhere at all, theyd surely be in the solid Midwestern Kansas of Averills fiction. And yet the “ordinary” people we meet in these stories lead us into one startling encounter after another with the mystery, the magic, and, yes, the transcendence that even the most mundane life secretly holds.
In writing that has been called “lyrical” (New York Times), “compelling” (Kansas City Star), and “voluptuous” (Booklist), Averill explores the relationship between fathers and sons, the dead and the living, the natural and the unnatural. With crystalline clarity he reveals the ordinary and the extraordinary genius of a place, a time, a solitary soul embedded in the minutiae of the everyday: a young boy hunting for a runaway horse; a couple ostracized in their small town; a grieving high school basketball star; a child with a voice purer than a tuning fork; a gay son seeking his fathers acceptance; two boys playing bocce with the parish priest for high stakes—the secret of their birth. If there is magic in love, in acceptance, in sorrow and solace in all the usual places, then these stories find that magic with ordinary genius.
"Nebraska inaugurates its new Flyover Fiction series, edited by Ron Hansen, with this slim, elegiac collection by the author of Secrets of the Tsil Caf. 'Nothing ever happens out nowhere, at the edge of Moscow, Kansas,' reads the first story's closing line — but of course the preceding pages belie that, as Moscow births more than its share of preternaturally gifted musicians and witnesses a few accompanying dramas. 'Shopping' is a quick, devastating look at the thorny relationship between a middle-aged gay man and his crotchety father, a connection that shifts over the course of a trip to the grocery store; 'Midlin, Kansas, Jump Shot' is a short, poignant investigation of the effects that grief and guilt have on a high school basketball player. In 'The Bocce Brothers,' orphaned 12-year-old twins wager on a game of bocce with a priest — if they win, he must reveal the name of their father — while in the poignant 'Topeka Underground,' a young boy forms an almost wordless bond with his strange, elderly neighbors. In all these stories, Averill illuminates the magical in the mundane: just because the rest of the world flies right over Kansas doesn't mean they're not missing out. Agent, Stephanie von Hirschberg." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Short stories by an O. Henry Award-winning author reveal the ordinary and extraordinary genius of a place, a time, a solitary soul embedded in the minutiae of the everyday.
About the Author
Thomas Fox Averill is writer-in-residence and a professor of English at Washburn University of Topeka. He is the author of the novels Secrets of the Tsil Cafe and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson.
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