In the title story, William, the narrator, drifts between madness and distress and despair. In “Family Photos,” Randy, the main character, is on leave from an institution for the troubled to visit his family. The more they try to draw him out, the more he retreats into his near-madness. And in the novelette that ends the volume, Dalrymple is not a disturbed person but a young man desperately seeking himself as he prepares to be drafted for service in the Vietnam War. His anxiety comes from his broken marriage, his fear of going to war, and his inability to make himself grow up. In “The Solitary Heart,” one of the few stories with a major woman character, we see a pair of artists—man and wife?—who carve out lives together yet really live alone. They work and eat together, but at night each goes to a solitary bed.
Malone does not write happy stories, but his work probes the depths of human emotion and opens for readers windows into the minds of people in more distress than they are. Or so we hope.
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Published by Texas Christian University Press