Synopses & Reviews
The war in Iraq empties the small town of Tumalo, Oregon, of men—of fathers—leaving their sons to fight among themselves. But the boys bravado fades at home when, alone, they check e-mail again and again for word from their fathers at the front.
Often from fractured homes and communities, the young men in these breathless stories do the unthinkable to prove to themselves—to everyone—that they are strong enough to face the heartbreak in this world. Set in rural Oregon with the shadow of the Cascade Mountains hanging over them, these stories bring you face-to-face with a mad bear, a house with a basement that opens up into a cave, a nuclear meltdown that renders the Pacific Northwest into a contemporary Wild West. Refresh, Refresh by Benjamin Percy is a bold, fiery, and unforgettable collection that deals with vital issues of our time.
"Percy's second collection (following last year's The Language of Elk) traces lives led in rural Oregon's fractured, mostly poor communities. The title story (selected for The Best American Short Stories 2006), presents Josh, a young man from small-town Tumalo who watches as men who signed up as Marine reservists for 'beer pay' leave to fight in the Iraq War, including Josh's father. As Josh's unreliable first person details a deer hunt, the escapades of the town recruitment officer and the less-and-less frequent e-mails from his father, tension slowly builds. Set during a blackout, 'The Caves in Oregon' follows geology teacher Becca and her husband, Kevin, as they explore a network of caves beneath their home, grappling to understand each other in the wake of a miscarriage. 'Meltdown' imagines a nuclear disaster in November 2009, while the menacing 'Whisper' opens with the accidental late-life death of Jacob, leaving his brother, Gerald, to care for Jacob's stroke-impaired wife. Percy's talent for putting surprising characters in difficult contemporary settings makes this a memorable collection." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Full of bravery and bravado, it fairly crackles with life. These stories mark the beginning of a long and brilliant career." Ann Patchett
"Benjamin Percy moves instinctively toward the molten center of contemporary writing, the place where genre fiction, in this case horror, overflows its boundaries and becomes something dark and grand and percipient. These stories contain a brutal power and are radiant with pain only a writer of surpassing honesty and directness could lead us here." Peter Straub
"The title story in Percy's collection won the Plimpton and Pushcart prizes and was anthologized in Best American Short Stories of 2006, and justly so.... These are hard-hitting stories from a writer to watch." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
About the Author
Benjamin Percy was raised in the high desert of central Oregon. He currently teaches creative writing, composition, and literature at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.