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Ghost Canyon

Book Reviews
By: Michael Redhill
(Hardcover / 224 Pages / Little, Brown & Company / ISBN: 0316734993 / $22.95)

Description: Michael Redhill conjures up many unexpected twists in 10 richly textured stories that range from the darkness of family silences to the hilarity of people caught in their own snares. The vulnerabilities of Redhill's characters are our own: a business-trip affair leaves a man humbled in ways he cannot anticipate; a young lover discovers she does not understand what connects people to each other; a traveling salesman, in trying to remain friends with his ex-wife, keeps breaking her heart; and a teenager's shocking sexuality inflicts wounds on her family.

Verdict: Nothing short of both heartbreak and betrayal (in ample, shared amounts) run through Redhill's collection of well-wrought stories. As if speaking from a possible life experience, 'Fidelity' examines the damage people inflict on themselves and others when their relationships fail. Redhill (Martin Sloane) gives his characters believable vulnerabilities and a touching humanity, even as they make messes of their lives! We have quite an colorful mass of characters here including a traveling school-portrait photographer; a father who finds himself unable to cope with his teenage daughter's shocking sexual behavior; a young woman struggling with a rocky relationship; a Jewish man wrestling with the morality of banking his sperm before he has a vasectomy, and such. Redhill's writing is graceful, so his stories of these people are moving without being maudlin. But, the true 'twist' as it were of these tales is that each one contains a flashback to a childhood memory. A memory that, as it turns out in each case, goes a long way toward explaining how the protagonist became the scarred adult he or she is today. Without a shadow of a doubt, Redhill proves once again that he is a writer of considerable humanity and insight.
Reviewed by Marc McCarthy