These eleven interrelated stories follow strands of hope and
nostalgia that bind together, or fence off, the people of Windfall.
Eric Shade's fictional western Pennsylvania community is a place we
all know: a town bypassed by the interstate, its rail line clogged
with coal cars that haven't moved an inch in years. The men of
Windfall still vie on the time-honored fields of contest--from bars
to bedrooms to football fields--but none is sure any longer what is
won or lost. Few certainties linger: the jobs are going fast and
the best women are already taken.
In the title story, a group of unskilled laborers rerun memories
of youth as they race against the dark to demolish the town's
drive-in theater. A chain restaurant will take its place. Naomi
dumps Dwight at the altar in "Hoops, Wires, and Plugs," but then
Dwight fritters away the shamed agitation that could have propelled
him beyond Windfall's stunting gravitational pull. In the final
story, "Souvenirs," small-time hoods Paxson and Gus do what so many
in Windfall can't: get out of town. They're off to Pittsburgh and a
contract killing they hope will kick off a more rewarding life of
In hands less able than Eric Shade's, Windfall's men would be
caricatures, screw-ups with all-too-easy access to the makings of
tragedy: pills, booze, fast cars, guns, chain saws. Instead their
stories give us new ways to ponder change and its consequences.
Windfall stakes out a gritty quarter of the literary map shared by
Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg and Thornton Wilder's Grover's
Subjects: Language & Literature
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