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Year of Fire: Stories (Harvest Original)
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Neither villainous nor devout, the characters that people Lynn's collection of 19 stories negotiate ethics and morality in a world that offers no absolutes. An obscure poet masquerades as her more celebrated colleague in "Mistaken Identity"; amid Detroit's 1967 raging race riots, a blue-blooded prep school teacher tends bar at a strip club on Eight Mile Road in the title story; a newlywed moonlights as an unfaithful vigilante in "Muggings." Kenyon Review editor Lynn (Wrestling with Gabriel) proffers no solutions to his characters' existential quandaries. Rather, their trials leave them "in a kind of limbo, not even probation." In a collection spanning India, England, Detroit and California, characters ponder confused, even mistaken identities in a world consumed with identity politics. Lynn also displays an adroitness with disaffected male protagonists, such as Duncan Boothe, the teacher-cum-bartender of the title story. "It was over now," Lynn writes, referring not to the race riots or to Boothe's dissolving marriage--these crises merely provide the backdrop for Boothe's central dilemma, jealousy of an awkward high school student with a fondness for Boothe's estranged wife. The stories of this collection occupy the gray borderland where betrayal mixes with trust, violence with affection, humiliation with lust. The effect is quietly haunting. (Jan.) -- Publishers Weekly Review
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