The award-winning stories in David Borofka's Hints of His Mortality focus on the male of the species, on bewildered, guilt-ridden, hypersensitive characters adrift in a sea of changing roles and expectations. Although they yearn for the ideal—whether physical or spiritual—and for that sense of divine connection suggested by Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality, they usually end up settling for what seems the next best thing: sex or religion.
The amorous scrimmage between male and female in these taut, intense stories is a contest that leaves no one unmarked. The hapless ministers in Borofka's memorable collection find that their daily grind of professional piety leaves them with more questions than answers. The men and boys in Hints of His Mortality are always aware of their flaws, for Borofka's vital characters have the capacity to register the shadows of their every blemish. Like Ferguson of the title story, haunted for twenty years by his failures of conscience, each protagonist experiences the inexorable fallibility of his own nature, agonizes over his moral weakness, and longs for escape from this life in which “our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting." Yet each is redeemed by his ongoing struggle for compassion and understanding.