In nineteen finely honed, deftly realized short stories, Rebecca Rule crafts with gentle wit and striking clarity a conglomeration of sometimes ragtag but always appealing small-town denizens, each of whom squares off against a nemesis of a singular sort. With an eye for the signature detail, an ear for the rhythms of regional speech, and a strong feel for the nuances of rural culture, Rule maintains a fine balance between humor and pathos that prompted National Book Award winner Thomas Williams to comment, Cold honesty gleams from every careful sentence.
Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Rule captures the essence of small-town New England life as she paints with a sure hand the fallings-out and friendships, the trials and triumphs of the New England microcosm. In Yankee Curse, elderly Miranda knits placidly at a town meeting, pondering an amazing string of unspoken invective against an enemy but stopping short at a curse she would never levy, not even on Mort Wallace: to live too long. In Minna Runs for Selectman, a middle-aged woman's battlefield is the strange, incestuous politics of this eccentric little town but her real opponent is her own insecurity. In Jim's Boat a young couple wages a silent struggle over priorities in their marriage; in Fishing with George a small girl worries that there's a hole in our family that gets bigger every time her parents argue; and in the title story a mother copes with a hated neighbor through a sculpture that makes her laugh the kind of laugh that doesn't end in a sob. Children and grandmothers, trappers and college professors, lifetime Yankees or transplanted Flatlanders: each finds the truth in Rule's observation that revenge takes many forms -- some of which can heal.
About the Author
Named Best Emerging Writer by the New Hampshire Writers and Publishers Project, Rebecca Rule is book review editor for the Concord (NH) Monitor and a summer writing instructor at the University of New Hampshire. She is coauthor of Creating the Story: Guides for Writers (1993) and author of Wood Heat (1992).
"Rule has an unerring ear for idiom and inflection, and her character's voices are spot-on . . . The best of the stories finish on an unexpected yet thoroughly satisfying note . . . A graceful and versatile writer."—Publishers Weekly
"Rebecca Rule reads her landscape with candor, wit, and accuracy born of bone-deep, ancestral identification with it. Her stories of small-town politics are larger than life-size. They are pungent, personal and historical; a document for those who come after us."—Maxine Kumin