Lauren Groff invites a new generation of readers to rediscover the haunting stories of a neglected mid-century master
A teenage girl in Connecticut driven to near delirium over her burgeoning sexuality. A twenty-something New Yorker transplanted to a small Virginia community who boldly befriends the town pariah. A New England widow in search of alcohol and excitement while babysitting her grandson. A Maryland socialite who has built a secret bomb shelter that becomes the center of her imaginative life.
These are some of the characters who inhabit Nancy Hale’s lush fiction. Haunting, vivid, and wonderfully subversive, Hale’s stories typically concern women recognizable to all of us—sometimes fragile, possibly wicked, deceptively ordinary, navigating their way uncertainly through life.
Nancy Hale was one of the most accomplished short story artists of her era, winner of ten O. Henry Awards and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker from the 1930s to the 1960s. But by the time of her death in 1988, this remarkable writer, so far ahead of her time in her depiction of complex women, was largely forgotten. Now Lauren Groff reintroduces this modern master with a selection of twenty-five of her best stories— brilliant short fiction that encompasses childhood and adolescence, marriage and motherhood, desire and infidelity, madness and memory.
Where the Light Falls reveals Hale as a gifted stylist—a painter in light and shadow—and an acute observer of modern American life.
Skillfully introduced and selected by Lauren Groff, this excellent collection of 25 short stories by Hale (1908 1988) reintroduces an overlooked master of the genre. Hale explores the borderland between inner truth and outer obligation, otherness and conformity, what remains and what is lost, what humans want to be and what is actually within their power to do. In the superb "To The North," affluent summer visitor Jack Werner feels truly at home only among the hardworking Finnish community in the New England town of Graniteside. Rejected by the Finns after he kisses one of their daughters, he gets a second chance to regain their acceptance years later. In another of the collection's finest works, 1934's searing "The Double House," a despairing young boy sees his father's happiness as his only reason to survive. In "The Bubble," Hale deftly evokes the inner experience of pregnancy. "Those Are as Brothers" probes prejudice and empathy in its story of the divorced American wife of an abusive German refugee and an anti-Semitic German nanny in her employ. The elderly woman of "How Would You Like to Be Born..." attempts to silence the judgments of her late sister when she receives a letter appealing for donations for the defense of three black teenagers arrested for killing a white farmer. Extensively published in the New Yorker and the winner of 10 O. Henry Awards, Hale's insightful, artfully constructed stories remain irresistible and relevant today.