The narratives throughout Gary Fincke’s sixth collection of short stories contain newsworthy events that are chronicled secondhand: the shooting of a policeman, the murder of a house flipper, the firing of a teacher for punching a violent student, the accidental drowning of a gay man in a flood, and a fire somewhat accidently set by a juvenile smoker in a school.
Despite these surprising events, the narrator of each story is an ordinary person caught up in the action but preoccupied by other things, whether zombie movies, collecting unusual words, the oddity of other people’s sexual habits, or what to do in retirement.
These shocking incidents become both central and peripheral to the narrative, as Fincke portrays the fluctuating emotions and self-protective reflections of fathers, sons, and husbands, creating a world where individuals rarely understand each other, yet still arrive at moments of compassion, tolerance, perseverance, and familial love.
Gary Fincke is the Charles Degenstein Professor of English and Creative Writing at Susquehanna University. Winner of the 2003 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the 2003 The Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, and the 2010 Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize for recent collections. He has published twenty-seven books of short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction as well as the novel How Blasphemy Sounds to God. He is the author of The Proper Words for Sin, a finalist for the 2014 Paterson Fiction Prize.
"A Room of Rain is a group of seamless short stories, by an old master of the form. Gary Fincke has never hesitated to ask hard questions in his work, and these stories are determined to take the toughest situations by the horns."
Madison Smartt Bell is the author of twelve novels, including the Haitian Revolutionary trilogy of All Soul's Rising, Master of the Crossroads, and The Stone That The Builder Refused
For years, Gary Fincke has quietly built a reputation as one of the nation's finest storytellers. This glorious collection shows him at the peak of his powers--funny, gritty, provocative."
Cary Holladay, author of The Deer in the Mirror
"Gary Fincke is one of the most reliable and prolific writers out there, and A Room of Rain is clearly one of his strongest collections. In this world that seems so quick to stick labels on everything, Fincke goes around ripping off all the stickers. He convincingly blurs the line between what is taboo and what is not, refusing to allow readers to back away into safety; these stories illustrate the notion that we are all have taboo thoughts, that beneath the surface, none of us are “ordinary,” none of us “pure.” At his best, he reminds me of Richard Yates—Fincke flat out knows how to write."
Jim Daniels, author of Eight Mile High and other collections
"This collection is provocative yet subtle; gritty yet humorous. The characters are round and the short stories are complete, though often feel like the tip of an iceberg. I wanted more because of how drawn I was to the characters, not because the tales left me unsatisfied. These stories continue to stick with me long after closing the book, beautifully rendered reminders of what we each hold untold."
Genevieve Shifke Ali, Independent Publisher