In the epigraph to this volume, Penelope Fitzgerald tells us: “If a story begins with finding, it must end with searching,” and so we discover each story here to follow the arc of a search, just as each also contains a rescue. What is immediately apparent is that it will be impossible to guess the form this rescue will take or even who it is who’ll require it.
Instead, the astonishingly talented Valerie Trueblood has imbued each story with its own depth and mystery, so rescue comes as a surprise to the reader, who is in intimate sympathy for the soul in extremity. And these are diverse characters whose fates, in lesser hands, might be thought of as hopeless: the fired cop turned security guard, the stolid, 19-year-old nurses’ aide who will not be going to art school, the cynical radio producer who is dying of breast cancer and on a plane on her way to Lourdes.
In these thirteen stories linked by a common transcendent human genius, the writing is confident and clear and original, and often drop-dead stunning, as if the stories are being told by the most casually eloquent among us. Here people expect to be saved and they are saved, sometimes against all odds, not by divine intervention but by other human beings, reminding us how tightly bound we are by earthy bonds of attachment and affection.