Mendocino Fire: Stories by Elizabeth Tallent
October 20, 2015
Mendocino Fire: Stories is a book of short stories by writer Elizabeth Tallent. Previously Tallent has written four other books: three other collections of short stories and one novel. Her last collection of short stories was published 20 years ago. Tallent has taught at Stanford University while her stories have been featured in a variety of journals such as The Threepenny Review and Boulevard.
From the back cover of my Uncorrected Proof copy:
Beginning in the 1980s, Elizabeth Tallent’s work appeared in some of our most prestigious literary publications, including the New Yorker, Esquire, and Harper’s. Marked by its quiet power and emotional nuance, her fiction garnered widespread praise.
Now, at long last, Tallent returns with a new collection of diverse, thematically linked, and deeply powerful stories that confirm her enduring gift for capturing relationships at their moment of transformation: marriages breaking apart, people haunted by memories of old love and reaching haltingly toward new futures. Mendocino Fire explores moments of fracture and fragmentation; it lines the wilderness of our inner psyche and brilliantly evokes the electric tension of deep emotion. I these pages, Tallent explores expectations met and thwarted, and our never-ending quest to avoid being alone.
I had never read any of Tallent’s earlier work and was blown away by her wonderful style and subjects. Each story is a unique and different gem of good writing. The stories all center around some sort of relationship be it a father/son, husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, etc. I found this book to be widely diverse in relationships and problematic issues. Tallent’s writing captures the subtleties and innuendoes and general nuances of a wide array of problems between two people.
My favorite story from the book is probably “Tabriz.” This story is about a twice-divorced man who is remarried for the third time. This new wife comes out to him that she is really a Republican and he just can’t deal with it. Also involved is a rug he finds in the middle of nowhere and he brings it home. The wife just can’t deal with this strange object the husband found on his own and she has issues with this rug! Anyway, the story brings out all the little absurdities that people deal with and/or overlook in a relationship. So many of these stories bring out the give/take and quirkiness of people in general.
About Elizabeth Tallent:
Elizabeth Tallent is the author of the story collections Honey, In Constant Flight, and Time with Children, and the novel Museum Pieces. Since 1994 she has taught in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University. She lives on the Mendocino coast of California.
Tallent does not have a website, but I found a link to an old interview HERE.
Other stops on the Mendocino Fire: Stories blog book tour can be found HERE.