Necessary fictions

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University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998 - Fiction - 224 pages
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Storytelling and art are major themes of this collection. The stories center on the need for expression, the pain of failing in artistic expression, and the ways in which we construct imaginative representations of our lives, the "necessary fictions" that allow us to live. At the heart of the book is a series of three interconnected stories and a novella concerning Raymond Gerhardt and his family. Ray is a carpenter, a World War II veteran, obsessed with building the perfect home for his family. When he dies, a possible suicide, his wife and children are left to sort out the meaning of his life and their own.What is the truth? Often the characters will tell conflicting versions of the same event in an effort to "get their story, straight" and find some comfort: but, as one character puts it. "There are only two facts, birth and death, and in between some necessary fictions". How did the father die? What happened to his son in Vietnam? Fact battles fiction as various characters tell and retell their personal histories, attempting to find the form that will allow them to accept their troubled past and go on with their lives.Croft's language, says writer William Van Wert, "sparkles with little details of description: 'the woman's eyes were a strange Icelandic blue, indigo washed pale by tears.' Necessary Fictions is a collection whose strength is in its dialogue, its wonderful ear for idiom, gender and symbolic detail, but my favorite parts of this collection are the narrative descriptions. the audacious and whimsical images that continue to haunt me, weeks after reading".Necessary Fictions is cumulative in its effect, relying on patterns of repeated images and phrases to catchand hold the reader. Although critical of patriarchy and the American dream, two ideologies that have entrapped and damaged the Gerhardt family, the stories also convey a sense of forgiveness and the belief that we grow stronger from our losses. This is a quiet, interior w

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About the author (1998)

Barbara Croft won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 1998 for her short story collection Necessary Fictions and has published one other collection of short stories. An earlier version of Moon's Crossing won a gold medal from the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society in 2000. A native Iowan, Croft has lived in the Chicago area for several years.

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