Troubled relationships between parents and children, most of them adults or at least in their late teens, provide the framework for many stories in this collection. In "Faculty X," a middle-aged son witnesses his mother's fixation with death and her attempt to cope with senility. "If I lose my glasses for good, you have to promise me you'll buy another pair just like them. I can't be buried without my glasses. I wouldn't be myself." In "Keeping Nice," Greg Haskins deals with his conflicting emotions of "contempt" for his aging mother's obsession to keep her belongings "nice" by covering them with plastic and his own fear of the uncontrollable forces around him.
Both "Callback" and the moving title story, "Emergency Calls," explore the anxieties of parents trying to balance the need to protect their teenage children with the task of making them accountable for their own often self-destructive actions. "Darwin in the City" centers on a man's paranoia and anxiety attacks over everything from hearing his wife gurgle her last breath into her pillow to the impending blindness that he knows will be his fate. In "The Tabloid Strategy" an elderly man is determined to create a new beginning for himself. "'I'm running for office, ' Lou Gorski said to his daughter on his seventy-first birthday. 'I'm starting my second life.'" The reader soon discovers, however, that starting a second life isn't quite that simple.
With vivid description and compelling dialogue, Gary Fincke pulls the reader deep into these stories and into the lives of these unforgettable characters. Emergency Calls is a masterful collection by a truly gifted writer.
Gary Fincke is the author of numerous books, including Plant Voices, For Keepsies: Stories, which was named a "Notable Book of the Year" by Yearbook of Literary Biography, and The Stone Child: Stories. He is Professor of English and the Director of the Writer's Institute at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.