by Carol Bly
Introduction by Tobias Wolff

:  Milkweed

Pub Date:  Spring 2000

Format:   Trade Paperback

Brief Description
New and selected stories by the legendary midwestern author, recipient of numerous prizes and awards.
(see below for Full Description)

"This collection introduces a writer of exceptional integrity.  These stories are clear-eyed, thoughtful and compassionate.  There is a tone of grave resepect in them, both for the characters and for their Minnesota setting."
--Anne Tyler



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"Carol Bly has done it again--slyly settled her fiction in the Minnesota flyover and then trasnformed the landscape into the common ground (is is the battlefield?) of American life and values... Through all the cunning, bravery and blank hopelessness of these characters, the intelligence working here radiates a rare passion for the ethical world."
--Patricia Hampl

"Each of the stories in this extraordinary collection has heft to it.   With a novel's amplitude, her stories present self-reliant individuals held in a web of communal independence... We take strength in characters who again and again refuse to capitulate to acts either morally repugnant or personally humiliating, as when a pastor rejects the millions his dying brother has earned in CIA dealings or a wife decides not to leave her comatose husband in a rest home...what the reader will remember is Carol Bly's spiritual moral intelligence as glimpsed through the valor of these vibrant characters."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Rooted in Minnesota, Bly's stories portray small-town folks grappling with each other's shortcomings and disappointments, if not downright cruelty and despair. As her characters consider both the tedium and the satisfaction of modest lives and confront upheaval and death, Bly tests the unwavering teachings of the church against the wholly unpredictable teachings of life, carefully separating the emotional from the moral, the desired from the real. Outstanding stories from two previous collections, Backbone (1985) and The Tomcat's Wife (1991), feature such intriguing figures as a lonely mortician who has trained himself to repress his feelings and manipulate his customers but who hasn't given up on love; a woman who watches her husband all but worship a seemingly together new neighbor whose life is actually in serious disarray; and a mechanic's widow who opens a boarding house in the hope of fashioning a more refined existence. All of Bly's stories are vital and beautifully crafted, and her new stories, especially the sinewy "Chuck's Money," reveal more about human nature than most novels."

"There's a big world in these eight multilayered, richly textured stories.  Bly goes to the core of human nature in a way that is quiet and efficient and dead sure.   And also suprising.  In Each one, she moves around the ovious story, choosing paths thath, while unexpected, are inevitably right."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Bly's fiction has a distinctive flavor...part of that flavor is her talent for mixing humor and tragedy and for writing sharp dialogue.  But perhaps the most distinctive flavor, the spirit that makes Bly's fiction universal, is her ethical rage.   Bly hates a bully, and her stories expose abuse, whether physical, emotional or verbal...Bly's genius is to bring political and social and ethical conflicts into the daily lives of her characters in a way that almost always seems unforced and natural."
--St. Paul Pioneer Press

"The stories are more than just exquisitely observed details of American life...If Bly doesn't look at life through rose-colored glasses, neither does she write with dark shades on.  Her literary vision is 20-20, and her creations are witty, warm, sad and real."
--Milwaukee Journal

Full Description
          The Upper Midwest, with its scattered small towns and bitter winters, is Carol Bly's source for stories that are, as Tobias Wolff says, "as particular in their settings and culture as those of Turgenev and Joyce and Flannery O'Connor, and as far from being simply regional." MY LORD BAG OF RICE collects Bly's best and most recent work, 11 stories fortified with sharp-eyed characters who stand a little apart from their routine, stolid lives, nurturing hardy seeds of self-worth in a mostly mediocre world. Tinged with humor, her stories always portray Midwesterners - and people in general - who manage to cultivate a sense of greatness in their lives.

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