Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Moody Families Fill Story Collection

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Moody Families Fill Story Collection

Article excerpt

"HOME SCHOOLING"

By Carol Windley.

Atlantic Monthly ($22)

The families in Carol Windley's remarkable story collection are as unsettled and moody as the wind-blasted landscape that shelters and confounds them.

Set mostly on Vancouver Island, where Windley lives, this book is the Canadian author's U.S. debut, a haunting book that deserves our attention.

There are faint echoes of Alice Munro, that Canadian genius of the short story, in Windley's work. If she isn't quite so artful as Munro in story structure, she is deeply in tune with her characters, their dilemmas, their petulance and the peculiar grace that allows them to accept, even sometimes to applaud, how far they've come.

Windley sets an ominous tone immediately in "What Saffi Knows," in which a "vigilant parent" recalls a terrible childhood secret and her failure to expose it:

"That summer a boy went missing from a field known as the old potato farm, although no one could remember anything growing there but wild meadow barley, thistles in their multitudes, black lilies with a stink of rotten meat if you brought your face too close or tried to pick them up. …

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