Local Souls

Local Souls

By Allan Gurganus

Liveright Publishing Corporation, Hardcover, 9780871403797, 352pp.

Publication Date: September 2013


Wells Tower says of Gurganus, "No living writer knows more about how humans matter to each other." Such ties of love produce hilarious, if wrenching, complications: "Fear Not" gives us a banker's daughter seeking the child she was forced to surrender when barely fifteen, only to find an adult rescuer she might have invented. In "Saints Have Mothers," a beloved high school valedictorian disappears during a trip to Africa, granting her ambitious mother a postponed fame that turns against her. And in a dramatic "Decoy," the doctor-patient friendship between two married men breaks toward desire just as a biblical flood shatters their neighborhood and rearranges their fates.

Gurganus finds fresh pathos in ancient tensions: between marriage and Eros, parenthood and personal fulfillment. He writes about erotic hunger and social embarrassment with Twain's knife-edged glee. By loving Falls, Gurganus dramatizes the passing of Hawthorne's small-town nation into those Twitter-nourished lives we now expect and relish.

Four decades ago, John Cheever pronounced Allan Gurganus "the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation." Local Souls confirms Cheever's prescient faith. It deepens the luster of Gurganus's reputation for compassion and laughter. His black comedy leaves us with lasting affection for his characters and the aching aftermath of human consequences. Here is a universal work about a village.

About the Author
Allan Gurganus s first novel, "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All", was a "New York Times" bestseller and has been translated into twelve languages. His novel "White People" was the winner of the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and his short fiction has appeared in "The New Yorker", the "Atlantic", and the "Paris Review" and has been anthologized in the "The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction", and "New Stories from the South". He is a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.