Though the best American writers live everywhere now, a popular fiction persists: our strongest literary voices are strictly bi-coastal ones. Barnstorm sets out to disprove that cliché and to undermine another one as well: the sense of regional fiction as something quaint, slightly regressive, and full of local color. The stories in this collection capture our global reality with a ruthless, unaffected voice. Lorrie Moore's "The Jewish Hunter" is a dark romance that's by turns cynical and guileless. Mack Friedman catches the smoking feel of first love in his "Setting the Lawn on Fire," and Jesse Lee Kercheval's "Brazil" is a raucous, ultimately mournful road trip. For Jane Hamilton, Wisconsin is a gorgeous but bittersweet homecoming, and for Kelly Cherry, in her achingly elegiac "As It Is in Heaven," it's the hopeful new world, juxtaposed with a bleak, tweedy England. Dwight Allen's "The Green Suit" evokes the young man edging toward adulthood, in a New York that's as flamboyant as an opera, and Tenaya Darlington, in her "A Patch of Skin," constructs a pure horror story, because the horror of loneliness is something we all know. Together Barnstorm's eclectic voices suggest that every coast now, even the Great Lakes' shores, are at the very center of our best, and truest, national literature.
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