LORD BAG OF RICE
Introduction by Tobias Wolff
Pub Date: Spring
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."
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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
"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
--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."
"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
--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
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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