KENT MEYERS is the author of The Work of Wolves, Light in the Crossing, The River Warren, and The Witness of Combines. He is a recipient of an ALA Alex Award, two Minnesota Book Awards, and a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association Award. His work has been included in the New York Times list of Notable Books and is published in a wide array of prestigious magazines.
In his beautiful and unsettling new novel, Meyers (The Work of Wolves) examines the effects of a murder on the residents of a small South Dakota town. In an opening sequence that is so disturbing it's difficult to read, teen Hayley Jo Zimmerman is stalked and abducted by a serial killer. The rest of the novel uses the rippling consequences of Hayley Jo's murder to explore the smaller rural tragedies in Twisted Tree, S.D.: Elise, a forlorn grocery clerk, judges everyone by their purchases and hides the secret terrors of her past as a missionary; Sophie Lawrence cares for her invalid stepfather while losing her sanity; Angela Morrison learns to accept the harsh realities of being a rancher's wife; Stanley, Haley Jo's father, channels his grief into a desperate need to connect with a stranger. The novel is brimming with arresting descriptions, and the western setting is employed to surprising effect, as in a sequence contrasting the removal of an invasive salt cedar bush with a father's awareness of his son's first crush. Meyers's small masterpiece deserves comparison to the work of Raymond Carver, Joy Williams and Peter Matthiessen. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"In his beautiful and unsettling new novel, Meyers (The Work of Wolves) examines the effects of a murder on the residents of a small South Dakota town... Meyers's small masterpiece deserves comparison to the work of Raymond Carver, Joy Williams and Peter Matthiessen." - Publishers Weekly"
Though identified as a "novel" on the title page, this is more accurately a collection of loosely related short stories, all set in or near Twisted Tree in western South Dakota. The central event binding the stories is the murder of Hayley Jo Zimmerman by a serial killer who targets anorexics after befriending them online. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, not all of whom knew Hayley Jo personally, though all know of the event. Other "ghosts" haunt the characters' lives, whether memories of lost loved ones or painful echoes from the past. We're in dark territory here, with little humor to relieve the grim tone. But Meyers has great respect for the diversity of his characters' rich internal lives and experiences, though they might appear outwardly stoic and unemotional. Verdict Recommended for readers of good literary fiction set in the American West.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.