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All the Roads That Lead From Home by Anne…

All the Roads That Lead From Home

by Anne Leigh Parrish

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Anne Leigh Parrish has created a captivating selection of stories in All the Roads That Lead From Home. It comes as no surprise that many of the titles are prizewinners from prominent literary magazines. The quirky and diverse array of human behaviors displayed in these pages is sure to amuse, while also reflecting a profound depth of feeling. To give a few examples—

A woman projects the heartbreak of miscarriage onto a plaster cast of the Virgin Mary. When a neighbor girl breaks the statue and reveals its hollow core, the woman feels liberated; she finds hope of reconciling with her husband.

After a visit from her mother’s ghost, an office worker forgets to put on the concealing make-up that normally hides a birthmark she affectionately calls “Blobbo.” She lets herself be seen in a new light.

A young thief, always looking for easy money, inherits a piano then gives it away for free. We hope she may find redemption by turning in her abusive boy friend for murdering his cocaine dealer.

Pinny is a smart girl with a reputation as a simpleton. She befriends a fat girl who arrives at school mid-year. When they both fall for the same boy, Pinny manages to keep her feelings secret, although both friends make out with the boy and almost give up their virginity.

Despite a predominance of painful themes—alienation from parents, failed marriages, alcoholism—the tone of the collection is uplifting, even humorous at times: a striking achievement in itself. I think Parrish pulls this off, in part, through a persistent assertion that beauty lies close beneath many of our most painful experiences. She uses winter imagery, the dazzling vision of sunlight on snow, to convey this paradoxical conviction. In one instance, in “Snow Angels,” my favorite story of the collection, the main character realizes that her cold and withholding father has always loved her, after all. Suddenly she sees the winter landscape around her as “pure white, absolutely clear, and almost too beautiful to bear.”

For this reader, it’s the kind of epiphany that won’t grow old.
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  AnesaMiller | Jan 17, 2014 |
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