From Publishers Weekly
The narrators of Porter's Flannery O'Connor Award–winning collection tend to be young and clear-eyed beyond their years as they give voice to the secrets—family, their own—that haunt them. In the opening story, Hole, the narrator ruminates on the loss of a childhood friend and the slippery nature of guilt, memory and truth. In Storms, a young man considers his relationship with a troubled sister, who abandoned her fiancé in Spain without a passport or money. The narrator of River Dog wonders if he should or could hate his brother for the things he did to other people, and for what they did to his brother. In the title story, a young woman ponders the nature of a May/December romance. If the events and secrets of these characters' pasts have not overtaken their lives, then their reverberations still threaten to corrupt the years yet to come. Throughout, Porter shows how love and pain often come hand in hand. (Oct.)
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Some writing is like taking a sip of the clearest mountain spring water: quenching, even though you’ve had water before. There are no new themes or revelations in Porter’s debut, winner of this year’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction—just the dalliances of suburban couples, the reminiscences of childhood, middle-class boredom, and academic affairs. Luckily he rescues his characters from the short-story doldrums, where plots might otherwise be known by rote. With clear, strong prose marked by devious underpinnings, Porter’s style is straightforward, his characters careful narrators treading above a murky pool. “Hole” recounts a shocking accident: two boys, summertime chores, and a sudden death in an illegal manhole. The two teenage boys in “Departure” spend a summer making idle attempts to date beautiful Amish girls; and in the title story, a college student is torn between the boy she hopes to marry and the secret, innocent affair she is having with an older professor. What these stories share is the haunting lull of memory and its deceptive, shadowy recall. --Emily Cook