Monday, February 18, 2008

Rock Springs by Richard Ford

To think I wasted so much time with Unidentified Book when Rock Springs was next on my docket.

These stories are so fresh! They're set in or around Montana, and follow characters with complications. Well, all fiction concerns people with problems (rule #1: conflict). But, on page one, these people start with immediately apparent issues. There is no comedic setup that degenerates into ruins. You start on the ground floor, dank and mold and all.

Like Earl in the title story, fleeing to Florida with his daughter and girlfriend, fleeing from his passed bad checks. When their (stolen) car breaks down, he calls upon a beneficent, resigned woman and her disabled grandson, who live in a trailer park.

Or the male protagonist in "Going to the Dogs." It's the day before Thanksgiving and he's visited by two female hunters looking to pay a visit to his landlord. The women, perfectly described and given pitch-perfect voices, make the story hum along.

I followed Rock Springs with the latest One Story, "Beanball" by Ron Carlson. A terrific little story (actually, it's much longer than most of One Story's issues) that combines baseball, Central America, a career-ending injury and, oh yeah, murder.

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