Beginning with his first published story, "When Times Sit In, " vivid, authentic characters enliven this collection. "Getting Serious" follows the life of a man who spends his summers in upstate Wisconsin, goes off to war and college, and then gets married. After losing his job and family, he retreats to his summer home to take inventory: "My wife and I never talked about our failing marriage, because it was too serious and depressing a topic and because, I suppose, we thought our failure would heal itself if we left it undisturbed long enough." Selected as a Best American Short Story in 1980, "Hog's Heart" is the poignant tale of a celebrated college football coach who, without medical evidence, is convinced he is dying. Keenly aware of his fragile state, Hog sees each day as possibly his last. Ironically, when Hog feels his team has the momentum to finally upset the legendary Crimson Tide of Alabama, death presents itself. The title character, Pease, in "The Good Man of Stillwater, Oklahoma, " believes something is coming but that he is the only one in town who can feel it. The long rains, the toad on his doorstep, swarms of locusts, drought, and nits are all signs that "It" is happening. "I cannot sleep because it is happening, and I begin to think I understand why. This should make me very afraid, but I tell myself I am a good man, no harm will come to me." His obsession ultimately costs him his job and his family. Three previously uncollected stories continue Weaver's theme of loss: of a friend to mental illness, of a successful life, of a student in a traffic accident.