A high school basketball coach learns that his star player is pregnant--with his child. The nightmare of a college student's rape and murder is relived by both her mother and her killer, whose contradictory accounts call to question the very nature of victimhood. In these eight stories, the fine line between right and wrong, good and bad, love and violence is walked over and over again.
The eight stories in this debut collection maintain a sense of isolation and loss while depicting and dissecting the lives of drifting characters making questionable decisions in a quiet Kentucky town. In the title piece, a father is faced with a moral quandary when his 19-year-old son is accused of raping a local teenager. The others follow similar themes of emotional voids and gaps in trust. In Upright Man, a college-bound town kid, Matt, befriends large and muscular and handsome country-boy Robbie while doing manual labor the summer after graduation. Though Robbie helps Matt get his first girlfriend, Matt secretly desires Robbie's girl and discovers how easily betrayal overcomes good intentions. The strongest entries are Parts and Proof of God, opposite sides of the same tale, narrated in turn by the mother who loses her daughter in a horrific crime, and the college classmate who killed her. Throughout each, the fallible characters are handled with delicate honesty. Though the setting tends to feel repetitive, Jones writes with grace and ease, the selections adding up to a powerful sum of reflection, loss and regret. (Sept.)
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August 30, 2009
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