Lean and controlled in their narration, abundant and moving in their effects, Maile Meloy’s stories introduce a striking talent. Most are set in the modern American West, made vivid and unexpected in Meloy’s unsentimental vision; others take us to Paris, wartime London, and Greece, with the same remarkable skill and intuition.
In “Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976,” two couples face a complicated grief when one of the four dies. In “Ranch Girl,” the college-bound daughter of a ranch foreman must choose which adult world she wants to occupy. In “A Stakes Horse,” a woman confronts risk and loss at the racetrack and at home. And in “Aqua Boulevard”—winner of the 2001 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction—an elderly Parisian confronts his mortality. Meloy’s command of her characters’ voices is breathtaking; their fears and desires are deftly illuminated. Smart, surprising, and evocative, Meloy’s brilliantly observed stories fully engage the mind and heart.