THE MAN IN THE BUICK
Short Story Collection
A man's life is changed by a tractor accident . . . . Another man negotiates a tricky relationship with his maid in Mexico. A woman goes shopping and sees what looks like her father's old car driven by a man who is a dead ringer for her deceased father; she pursues the car, the man. A woman of means accepts a date with a poor Chinese student who opens her life in unexpected ways. Another woman, a down to earth theatrical costumer, takes up with an airline pilot who is the opposite of her earthiness--he is almost all sky. A married woman falls into an affair with her gardener after she carries him a glass of water one day. A young mother almost loses her infant son in the post office one day when a strange older woman tries to carry him off. On a weekend getaway meant to bring one family together, a woman tries to win the love of her difficult mother. The one-time mistress of a charismatic professor meets with his son after many years and they end up re-enacting the Ganesha myth of the awkward and graceful boy-god, the elephant boy. The daughter of an alcoholic pieces things together and moves on. These are the stories in The Man in the Buick collection.
Read Kathleen's interviews, articles and blogs
THE MAN IN THE BUICK
BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kans, September 1999, ISBN: 978-1886157200
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"George doesn't waste a word as she plunges the reader into her characters' lives with startling intensity, then skillfully reveals as much about them as it is necessary to know. . .These masterfully shaped stories mark George as a writer to watch."
"There is a theory espoused in "Maria," the second story in this wonderful collection by Kathleen George, that goes like this: "We each have probably about ten people who matter to us. . . and we keep finding them over and over again." This theory explains the game of likeness, of twinning and tripling, that recurs throughout this book. . . .Kathleen George does not write simple stories. They are layered in likenesses, textured and haunting, bubbling with keen observations: "she felt an abandoned Easterner looking about for the coziness of walls"/ "Her graying hair stood up in scattered, occasional question and exclamation points."/ "he saw the house collapsed like jagged bones in settled dust." / "Thin and fragile as the next twenty years, which went by like a breath"/"She lingers in Garren's life like a late afternoon light in autumn." George's voice lingers like that as well: it seems to come from far off, and it ends up bathing you in beauty."
William Van Wert, Chelsea
"Like Alice Munro, Kathleen George does not rely on one moment to turn a story around; rather she allows her characters' pasts to inform their present lives and the lives of these stories. The result is a rich journey through whole experiences that lead the reader not to an ending but to an opening, a glimpse at the future for George's character, and a deeper udnerstanding of how our pasts, presents, and futures are intertwined."
"Early in The Man in the Buick this phrase appears: "a sweetness under some sort of discomfort," and the words go to the heart of these fictions. . . .Kathleen George's is a quiet but always provocative voice. "Things progress," says one narrator in this subtle story collection, "and that's the miracle of it."
Robley Wilson, Jr.
"If you don't read another book of fiction all year, read this one. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time. I'm telling you, this Kathy George can flat out write. These characters are so fully developed, the settings so righly textured, the insights into human nature so heartbreaking--well, it's a wonderful book. .. Not a day passes that I don't think about these people and the effect they have had on my life."
"Whether she is writing about photographers, an artist, a writer, in stories set in upstate New York, Pittsburgh, Mexico, or China, Kathleen George deftly plays out themes of discordant love, sometimes resolved, and finds a lucid voice to let her characters come alive on the page. The grace of her writing, the intensity of her insights assert themselves in memory and won't let go."
"Kathleen George is an assured and elegant writer and storyteller possessed of an exceptionally commodious embrace. One after another, these wise and moving accounts of essential human striving wrap themselves around whole lifetimes of love and hunger, memory and loss. Delightfully readable as these stories are, to enter them is to give oneself over to a delicate mortal struggle for understanding. George is not aiming to make things easy. Her devotions are to what is complex, what is hard won, what is true. She performs this austere practice with a singular grace, and each one of these stories falls into a reader's hands like a precious gift."
"I will read The Man in the Buick over and over again. I will teach it to my students. I will buy copies for my friends. I will recommend it to friendly strangers. I will do these things because of the uncommon honesty of these stories, their sharp, shimmering prose, and the characters in them, so palpable and deep thinking and interesting, so infuriating and wise, so funny and sad that I actually missed them when I closed the book. These kinds of stories are so rare in our world, you've got to keep them close at hand. . .and pass them on to those you care about as though you were giving them the secrets to a long and beautiful life."