A Methodist minister gone astray, a grieving trout bum gone fishing with his fathers remains, an artist overwhelmed by incarnate beautythese are just a few of the iconic yet utterly unique characters in Thomas Lynchs spirited collection. Set in Michigans north woods, in Ohios interior, on islands, in casinos, and in distant cities, these stories are linked by the gone and not forgotten: former spouses, dead parents, and missing children. In pursuit of love and its redemptions, these are pilgrims haunted by memory, dogged by desire, made radiant by romance and its denouements.
With the elegant prose of Frederick Busch and the Irish sensibility of William Trevor, Lynch masterfully creates a world where mirage and apparition are commonplace, where people searching for connection and old comforts find them both near at hand and oddly out of reach.
It's as if Lynch has captured the constant vigilance and abiding presence of his professional life as a funeral director in his written words. When so many fiction writers crowd their stories and novels with hundreds of characters and thousands of extraneous details, it's calming to settle into Lynch's rich, tightly focused narratives... The old and the new, the living and the dead: this collection of short stories is a trove of carefully observed lives. If you're drawn to quiet, moving portraits and patient character studies, you'll find all this and more in Apparition and Late Fiction. (Reviewed by Casey Cep).
Los Angeles Times
[Lynch] is a careful writer... He creates his characters thoroughly, with much detail and background... In this way, he cares for his reader by taking the guesswork out of the fiction. He wants you to know exactly where you are in time and space. He is more interested in truth than speculation, substance than mystery.
[T]oo often [Lynch] operates at too great a remove, making the book read occasionally like fictional reportage, albeit beautifully written... The saving grace of all of the stories, and the quality that keeps them afloat, is the frequent beauty of their prose.
[A] quietly exhilarating book, full of beautiful writing and keen observations.
Overall, Lynch seems at a loss for what to do with his fictional creations; haunted as they are by deaths and burdensome back stories, his character's present lives feel contrived.
Starred Review.There is wisdom, courage, and great depth of feeling here. The pieces in this powerful, meditative collection are all beautifully drawn; the title story is a masterpiece.
Starred Review. Compassion, mourning, joy and wit all play roles in this tender, insightful hefting of mortality's mysteries.
Meditative and politely laconic, this is a terrific collection from a writer who thinks and feels and tells stories with an engagingly distilled candour and assurance all his own.
If the subject of the Inevitable piques your interest, may we suggest...
If you're looking for funeral fiction, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is the king of the canon. Its curious style creates a moving portrait of the Bundren Family attempting to bury its matriarch Addie Bundren. With almost sixty chapters and fifteen narrators, the novel is a diverse portrait of familial grief. Another brilliant account of death in the South is Eudora Welty's The Optimist's Daughter, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. The passing of Judge Clint McKelva is the occasion for the novel, but his funeral and memory provide more than enough emotion and drama for his surviving daughter and young window. For something more contemporary, try Ian McEwan's Amsterdam, a dark, but perfect novella. It starts at the funeral of Molly Lane, a charming woman whose life and marriage were full of affairs, and follows three of her many lovers as their working and personal lives entangle.
Craving something more than fiction? Thomas Lynch himself writes frequently...
From a chance encounter between two childhood friends to the memories of a newly widowed man to a family grappling with the sale of their ancestral land, Trevor examines with grace and skill the tenuous bonds of our relationships, the strengths that hold us together, and the truths that threaten to separate us.
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