Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About Mendocino Fire
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 20, 2015)
The long-awaited return of a writer of rare emotional wisdom
The son of an aging fisherman becomes ensnared in a violent incident that forces him to confront his broken relationship with his father. A woman travels halfway across the country to look for her ex-husband, only to find her attention drawn in a surprising direction. A millworker gives safe harbor to his son’s pregnant girlfriend, until an ambiguous gesture upsets their uneasy equilibrium. These and other storiesóof yearning, loss, and tentative new connections dcome together in Mendocino Fire, the first new collection in two decades from the widely admired Elizabeth Tallent.
Diverse in character and setting, rendered in an exhilarating, exacting prose, these stories confirm Tallent’s enduring gift for capturing relationships in moments of transformation: marriages breaking apart, people haunted by memories of old love and reaching haltingly toward new futures. The result is a book that reminds us how our lives are shaped by moments of fracture and fragmentation, by expectations met and thwarted, and by our never-ending quest to be genuinely seen.
Profound yet elemental, Mendocino Fire marks the welcome return of a sage and surprising voice in American fiction.
I’ve been interested in reading short stories again for awhile now, so when I saw a tour for this collection of short stories I jumped at the opportunity to read it. This is my fist experience with Tallent and it won’t be my last. She is a master storyteller and I loved both her writing style and the beauty of her words. I want to check out her other short story collections at some point in the future.
This isn’t a collection to read quickly. I read it too fast and I wish I had taken more time with each story. Read a story a day and take time to really process and digest each story before moving onto the next. What I loved about this book is that Tallent introduces the reader to a fascinating array of characters and we meet these characters at pivotal moments in their lives, but to fully appreciate all that she put into the stories, I think you need time with each one.
As always with a collection like this, some stories will stand out more than others. I had trouble getting into the first story in the collection, The Wrong Son, but it picked up for me with the second story. My favorite in the collection was Mystery Caller and I will be going back to read that one again soon.
I highly recommend Mendocino Fire, especially if you’re looking for a break from what you typically read. I’ve been looking for something like this for awhile and it was a joy to read.
About Elizabeth Tallent
Elizabeth Tallent is the author of the story collections Honey, In Constant Flight, and Time with Children, and the novel Museum Pieces. Since 1994 she has taught in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University. She lives on the Mendocino coast of California.