In the title story of Dabney Stuart's second collection of short fiction, Mark Random - grown from the childhood and adolescent complexities of Sweet Lucy Wine into his own fatherhood - seeks both to remember and to create his father, Seth. His search moves backward and forward in time, weaving memories of his own children toward the focusing experience with Seth that concludes the story. "[There seemed] in the uniformity of their routines something established long before they were born to their parts in it, a compromise, almost instinctive, with forces too immense and subtly intertwined to be faced head on". Stuart uses a sequence of scenes - fishing trips, gatherings for meals, moments of solitary musing - to give context to and complement formally these tentative evocations. The sense of ceremony, of revelations and release, that the narration seeks in The Way to Cobbs Creek extends into the other stories. They involve three characters - all black - who are apparently peripheral in the longer fiction, but who turn out to be instrumental in Mark's life, perhaps even more influential in primary ways than his relatives. Willie Parole, Mariah Advent, and Delia Walker each realize moments of personal discovery in terms of their particular engagements with crises, and opportunities.
Dabney Stuart is the author of more than a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and criticism, including No Visible Means of Support: Stories and Second Sight: Poems for Paintings by Carroll Cloar. He teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.