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American Falls is the first major collection of short stories from Barry Gifford, master of the dark side of the American reality. These stories range widely in style and period, from the 1950s to the present, from absurdist exercises to romantic tales, from stories about childhood innocence to novellas of murder and revenge.
In the title story, a Japanese-American motel operator chooses not give up a total stranger, a black man wanted for murder, when the police come searching for him. In “Room 584, The Starr Hotel,” a man rants his outrage at an amorous couple in the room next door before he himself is arrested for having committed multiple murders. “The Unspoken” recounts the confessions of a man without a mouth who tells about the woman who loved him. And in this collection’s longest fiction, a novella called “The Lonely and the Lost,” a small town’s talented and colorful inhabitants solve their problems as best they can until it comes time for the devil to reap what they have sown.
Dark and light intermix in masterful chiaroscuro, dark becoming light, light revealing sinister or brooding complexity. No simple endings, only happy beginnings.
“American Falls is a choice sampler of Gifford’s talent, and a fine introduction for newcomers. It’s a summer road trip of a book: steamy, diverse, and a wild ride.” — New Orleans Times-Picayune