Uncategorized | August 16, 2005

Two collections of short stories and two memoirs highlight recent book releases from past contributors to the Missouri Review: Brocke Clarke, Carrying the Torch; Donald Hays, Dying Light and Other Stories; Bill Roorbach, Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey; and Floyd Skloot, A World of Light.

Clarke’s collection of stories, Carrying the Torch (University of Nebraska Press), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. “The stories…occupy a world at once as familiar as a suburban backyard or a southern college’s hallowed football field and as strange as a man who buys Savannah, Georgia, and tries to turn it into the perfect Southern city as part of his attempt to win back his estranged wife.” Marly Swick cites an “exceptional originality” as well as an “amazing emotional resonance, a haunting quality.”

It is Clarke’s second collection of stories–the first, What We Won’t Do, received the 2002 Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction. An assistant professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, he’s also the author of the novel The Ordinary White Boy. His story, “Concerning Lizzie Borden, Her Axe, My Wife,” appeared in TMR 27:1 (2004).

Hays, whose story, “Why He Did It,” appeared in TMR 23:1 (2000), has published his first collection of short fiction, Dying Light and Other Stories (MacAdam/Cage). “Uncompromising, often dark and always insightful, Dying Light and Other Stories explores the mysteries of duty, forgiveness, power, love and human resiliency. Through a broad range of voices–each authentic and unique–we see characters on the verge of vital decisions, and follow their turns into regret, loneliness, oblivion, reflection, and solace.”

Hays is the author of two novels, The Dixie Association, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and The Hangman’s Children. He teaches contemporary fiction and creative writing at the University of Arkansas.

In Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey (Dial Press), “Roorbach turns his attention to backcountry Maine, where he lives with his family in sight of the mercurial stream that runs through the fields below his house…. Roorbach follow(s) Temple Stream to its elusive source. Along the way he opens a window on its fascinating history, poignant beauty, deep science, oddball characters, and a way of life that is fast disappearing.”

Roorbach is the author of Big Bend, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award; a novel, The Smallest Color; and a memoir, Summers with Juliet. Temple Stream began as an article that first appeared in Harper’s Magazine. Two Roorbach pieces have been published in the Missouri Review: the short story “Fredonia” in TMR 17:3 (1994) and the essay “Scioto Blues” in TMR 22:3 (1999).

A World of Light (University of Nebraska Press) continues the story Skloot first told in his award-winning memoir, In the Shadow of Memory, which recounted his own coming to terms with a brain-ravaging virus. In A World of Light, Skloot carries us beyond the “reassembly of a self after neurological calamity to the reconstruction of a shattered life. More than fifteen years after a viral attack compromised his memory and cognitive powers, Skloot must now do the vital work of re-creating a cohesive life for himself even as he confronts the late stages of his mother’s advancing dementia.”

Skloot is the author of ten previous works and has received the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction. His work has been featured in The Best American Essays, The Best American Science Writing, The Best Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize, and The Art of the Essay. His essay, “Wild in the Woods: Confessions of a Demented Man,” appeared in TMR 22:3 (1999).