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books




Brett F. Woods
Icy Current, Compulsive Course

ICY CURRENT, COMPULSIVE COURSE
Selected Stories by Gaither Stewart

Category: Fiction
ISBN: 1-58898-617-9 (Trade Paperback); 0-9721513-1-1 (eBook)
Pages: 314 print; 304 eBook
Format: Trade Paperback; eBook (PDF)
Cost: US$15 (Paperback); US$8 (eBook)  

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description

Over the course of four years, Mexico, New York City, Paris and Rome served as backdrops for the construction of Icy Current. Thus divided by geophysical region, the first group of stories contrasts, with a good dose of irony, the distinct lifestyles of the Gringo and Mexican inhabitants of the small town of San Miguel de Allende in the high country north of Mexico City.

The Italians of the main body of Icy Current, Compulsive Course reveal an unexpected vision of life in Europe’s most exotic country. Gaither Stewart’s Italy is vastly different from the nation that exists in glossy tourist brochures. Characters peopling stories like "The Train," "Nobody Out There" and "The Village Sagra" are emblematic of the real loneliness in a country where solitude is taboo. The stories of this ephemeral Italy will bewilder some readers and delight others.

Stewart says his short stories are the point of departure for most of his fiction. "The more the writer is immersed in the lives of the persons he depicts, the better he can avoid troublesome autobiographical references and abstractions. In that sense the short story helps me establish the tone of most of my writing—a personal viewpoint via an identifiable point of view.

"The short story gives the writer an immediate sense of satisfaction in that it is quickly accessible for the reader. Whether on a mountainside or the seashore, on an ocean voyage or a long distance train, the reader in a short space of time is able to leap straight into the mind of the writer."

Icy Current, Compulsive Course is a rich and varied first collection of stories, set convincingly in Mexico, the United States, Italy and France, with clear narratives but also attention to what lies beyond the surface of life.

- Desmond O'Grady

The newest collection, published by the small American publisher Wind River Press, merits a Dutch translation. Stewart knows how to write a short story. He is an erudite and skillful stylist, who makes the reading of his 20 stories a pleasure. Mexico [also the life there of the gringo’s], France [the existence of Russian exiles], America and Italy, are the setting for the stories. His inspiration lies in incidental meetings, a word, a painting, a little song, a dream. ... The stories are second to none.

- Algemeen Dagblad

Gaither Stewart’s broad sensitivity to disparate cultures—Italian, Mexican, Russian, American—grabbed my interest immediately. His capacity to tell compelling stories is fresh and convincing.

As suggested by the book’s title, these 20-plus stories deal with dark material—exploitation, deception, addiction, obsession, loneliness, poverty, sex, death. Stewart never fails to engage the reader’s sympathy for the principal characters of his stories.

- Rapid River Monthly (Asheville)

This debut short story collection by Stewart is the ultimate study in wanderlust, a dozen plus 8 tales infused with tidbits of what are no doubt his personal chronicles while spent traveling the landscapes of Mexico, Paris, New York and Rome. Versatility aside, Stewart is at his skillful best when examining the psychology at the core of his characters' thoughts and deeds.

A truly global slant on the commonplace of humanity's omnipresent and abundant foibles.

- Boox Review

Icy Current, Compulsive Course is good reading. The author masterfully inweaves platinum threads of world culture into the body of the collection – crystal-clear verse by Walt Whitman, absurd dialogues by Samuel Beckett, Florentine frescoes by Tommaso "Masaccio" Guidi, the legendary names of Russian dissidents who did their bit in tearing down the Soviet Union, the glistening pearls of Spanish, French, Italian and German throughout the text. Even the tingling title is a strong echo of Shakespeare's mighty lines reflecting Othello's jealousy. ...

Icy Current, Compulsive Course is one of the rare books that immediately becomes a part of the reader's conscience and lives in his mind long after the last page is turned.

- Michael Kassianik

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