In Long Odds, Gordon Weaver's latest collection, each male protagonist struggles for moral and emotional strength to cope with a universe gone awry. Each of the eleven stories centers around a circumstance that is both ordinary and shockingly unpredictable.
A small-time flop of a con man in the "psychic" business becomes dependent on his inspirational talks with a dead hustler from a bygone era. An eccentric helplessly watches a crumbling society from a table in his favorite diner. A proper Bostonian buries his black-sheep brother in rural Mississippi. A group of newly divorced men takes up daily exercise, in search of solace, in an upscale mall.
Some of Weaver's characters win in the end, some fail miserably, but all of their stories depict their confrontations with self and surroundings. Each story lures the reader forward despite the potential disappointment and self-destruction that often loom just ahead for the characters. The father of a blind girl builds an elaborate Christmas light display for her as his wife watches with bewildered disapproval. A part-time college English teacher travels the freeways from job to job, and from woman to woman, to avoid the paralysis of stasis.
Written in the bold, sharp style that is Weaver's trademark, Long Odds includes stories that shift in mood and tone from the serious to the comically ironic, but which are unified by a common sense of isolation as each man labors to make sense of his place in the world.
Lauded by Publishers Weekly as presenting "characters whose cries are so human, raw and mordant, the reader forgets the fiction and is delivered inside the experience," Weaver skillfully introduces a level of depth and intensity to situations that may appear commonplace at first glance. This inventive collection offers a gallery of men who, outwardly ordinary, are revealed as complex in their humanity, defined as much by their sensibilities as by their actions--or their failures to act.
Author of four novels and numerous short-story collections, including Four Decades and Last Stands, Gordon Weaver is Adjunct Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Recognition of his work includes two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the O. Henry First Prize, the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, and numerous other prizes and citations. Cadence, the 1991 movie starring Martin and Charlie Sheen, is based on Weaver's novella Count a Lonely Cadence.