A vibrant selection of stories from the author ofSweet HeartsandFirst, Body This selection of Melanie Rae Thon's stories showcases her breathtaking ability to become each one of her characters, to move inside the bodies and minds of the dispossessed. One woman speaks for them all: ""I'm your worst fear. But not the worst thing that can happen."" In This Lightshimmers with grace as a drunk young woman hits a Native American man on a desolate Montana road, a grieving slave murders the white child she nurses and loves, and two throwaway kids dance in the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree in a stranger's house. Thon's searing prose reveals that the radiant heat inside us all is the hope and hunger for love.
In Thon's overcooked collection, readers are run through a gauntlet of human suffering spanning slavery, the Holocaust, suicide, Vietnam, and abandoned children, focusing on a cast of broken characters seeking wholeness and redemption. Whether walking the frigid Boston streets with the drug addicts of "Nobody's Daughters" or languishing on a reservation, post-Vietnam, with Raymond Good Bird, Thon never flinches from exposing the wounds of her dejected cast. But this isn't just a play-by-play macabre parade; Thon imbues every sentence and character with care and craft, like Didi Kinkaid and the children she abandoned and returned to in "Heavenly Creatures" ("She offered herself to the strays, and the ritual of love made her really love them"). Thon (Sweet Hearts) can write a stunning sentence, and it's a strange criticism to say she writes too many of them, but with nearly every line striving for transcendence, the effect often becomes one of exhaustion. Obviously, every word was sweated over and each sentence polished to perfection, and while Thon's vision and sympathy for her characters is unparalleled, the unvaried high register she writes in could use a little shaking up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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May 23, 2011
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