The seven stories in Pam Durban's widely praised debut collection are tales of family, of love and loss, of survival and affirmation. Durban's resonant prose subtly obliges her readers to experience the rush of icy water in a stream, the taste of greens freshly snatched from an overgrown garden, the dread weight of confusion and uncertainty.
In "This Heat," the opening story, a mill worker faces the long-expected loss of her teenage son when his weak heart finally gives out. In the title story, which concludes the collection, a formidably eccentric woman abruptly leaves her daughter and granddaughter to answer a "calling" to do missionary work in Africa.
Framed between these two stories is a gathering of characters made real and consequential by Durban's touch: a country singer more than a few big breaks short of stardom, a preadolescent boy lovestruck over his private swimming instructor, a father cut off from his children by haunting war memories, and others.