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.
Catch and Release
The thermos bottle with his father’s ashes in it rested on the front seat of the drift boat. He was glad to have the morning’s busy work behind him and to be in the river. The green thermos with the silver cap looked inconspicuous enough.
Neither the waitress at the All Seasons Diner nor the other guides meeting their clients over biscuits and sausage gravy had noticed it. Nor had the woman from the tackle shop with whom he had arranged a car spot for his truck and trailer. He told her he’d be floating Walhalla to Custer and left her a set of keys. He took some twenty-pound shooting line, some ten-pound leader and eight-pound tippet, some split shot and a Snickers bar, some feathers and yarn. He’d been tying his own flies for years. “On account,” he told her, putting the gear on the counter.
“You’ll be a long way downstream from the other guides, Danny,” she told him. “Most of ’em are doing Green ...
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).
Full Review (971 words).
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 ...
If you liked Apparition & Late Fictions, try these:
A contemporary morality tale that is as profound as it is witty. Ian McEwan at his wisest and most wickedly disarming.
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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