Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Fires

Review - The Fires by Alan Cheuse

The Fires is a collection of two novellas, each concerning love and loss. In the first story, "The Fires", Gina Morgan travels to a former Soviet republic to retrieve the body of her husband who has been killed. In the second, "Exorcism", an unnamed narrator must deal with his own grief, and that of his daughter, after the death of his ex-wife.

The two novellas were strikingly different - the first was pure intensity from the opening sentence; the second used humor throughout the story to lighten the mood. Both dealt with the death of a spouse, but in the first the couple was still very much in love, and in the second they had moved past each other. But the novellas were linked with one common factor - fire, which played a role in each story.

Cheuse has a talent for engaging the reader immediately in the narrative. Neither of these stories is long - around 60 pages each - but he packs an immense amount of emotion into those few pages. Even though he is writing about grief, both stories leave the reader with a feeling of hope when the last page has turned. I have enjoyed Cheuse on NPR for some time, and now look forward to reading more of his work in print as well.

Finished: 6/22/08
Source: Santa Fe Writer's Project
Rating: 7/10

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