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though he is truly in love with his wife, making it impossible for her to hate him for his abuse. It is only when Charlo begins to threaten Paula's oldest daughter that she finally kicks him out, in a gloriously violent revenge scene during which she beats him over the head with a frying pan. Now, however, begins Paula's biggest challenge. How does she raise four children with no job and a worsening drinking problem? The answer is: not gracefully. Charlo's departure is not a magical solution. Instead, we must watch Paula lose a daily battle with alcoholism while her oldest daughter assumes the responsibility of raising the youngest child. Though Paula finally better understands what has happened to her, and that she was not the cause of all of her problems, there is no happy ending to this story. (BF) Here We Are in Paradise by Tony Earley Little, Brown and Company, 1994, 198 pp., $11.95 This small volume of collected stories (eight in all) showcases the plainspoken prose of Tony Earley, who in 1996 was named one of the twenty best young American novelists by Granta. AU but one of the stories have appeared before in various magazines or journals. Most are set in North Carolina and all of them deal, in one way or another, with the changing South. "Charlotte," for instance, is about a Southern city struggling with its modern identity as its pro wrestling venue is being replaced by a fledgling professional basketball franchise. But While "Charlotte" may be representative of the modern South, it is not as interesting as some of the other more subtle, and rural, stories. Their characters face problems that seem foreign to them and the culture they wish to preserve: divorce and the marital pressures caused by women's liberation, increased population, mobility, and the instability of communities. Many can remember a time when sawmills, steam trains and bootleggers were common, and can name relatives only a few generations back who fought in the Civil War. With an outlook formed in the years between Reconstruction and the New Deal, Earley's Southerners waver between deep suspicion and faith in the future. In addition to facing urban problems once common only in the North, the characters in these stories struggle against the mysteries of changing demographics, aggressive real estate brokers and Yankee tourists. The narrator of "The Prophet from Jupiter," a middleaged dam keeper facing divorce and early retirement, watches helplessly while the once-quiet town where he lives changes into a popular mountain resort. The effect of change is rendered by Earley in voices that are numb and wounded and stuck somewhere between lamenting a past that never was and assessing the meaning of the present. In "Lord Randall," it is the young narrator, not his happygo -lucky parents, who grows up confused and deprived of place, identity and hope. An only child, he watches as a blind optimism in the economically revived South leads The Missouri Review · 209 his parents into various doomed ventures, including a laundromat, campground and trout farm. All of the stories in Here We Are in Paradise are told in a deceptively simple style that at its best is straightforward, often haunting, and executed with an effortless grace that slowly accumulates quiet power. At other times, the self-conscious Southernness of the stories— the "supernatural naturalism" and the benumbed, simple prose and quirky non sequiturs of the various narrators—seem merely obligatory and all too typical of current fiction from the South. Nonetheless, the last three stories, the best of this collection, provide a cumulative insight that the earlier stories sometimes lack. AU three concern a young Jim Glass, his widowed mother and his three bachelor uncles, living together in Aliceville, North Carolina. The stories end with a poetic (and classically Southern) meditation on family, the names of ancestors, the power of names and, finally, words. 0DF) Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy Steerforth Press, 1996, 268 pp., $24 Barbara Gowdy's third novel centers on the lives of the Canaries, an eccentric family whose quirks Gowdy establishes early on. Gordon , the father, and Doris, the mother, are both leading secret homosexual...


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