William Hoffman is a master storyteller, and Follow Me Home reveals him at his inimitable best. In these eleven brilliantly observed, superbly crafted stories, he explores one of the most secret places of the human heart—the corner where we keep hidden the small and precious supply of whatever it is that lets us persist, and sometimes even triumph, in the face of life’s inescapable diminishments and losses.
In Hoffman’s characters, the content of this inner reservoir varies greatly. For the hill farmer in “Abide with Me,” it is a form of direct grace granted to him in a near-death vision. For the disabled veteran in “Night Sport,” it is a bitter concoction of disillusionment and raw truth carried home from a distant war. For the quietly retired minister in “Sweet Armageddon,” unexpectedly given a glimpse of the life he long ago forsook, it is a prayerful wish for annihilation.
On a less apocalyptic scale, in the haunting “Points,” a once-great horseman finds sustenance in a remembered world of elegance and courage—a world that, like his skills, is rapidly fading. In “Dancer,” a bereft and lonely woman retreats into the music of her youth, birds becoming quarter notes that fill the sky. In “Expiation,” a self-made executive after many years comes to terms with his own childhood, even though it means ending the lie on which his marriage is built. And in “Coals,” a maid and cook calls on her own reserves of spirit to bring her employer a renewal of life.
Set in the small towns, cities, hills, and seascapes of Virginia—territory Hoffman knows as well as any writer ever has—the stories of Follow Me Home reveal to us men and women we know and care about, for in their struggles, win or lose, we recognize ourselves.
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