Lee Byrd's first collection—seven stories and a novella—is largely concerned with domestic issues and family relationships, with the events, large and small, of daily life. Although many of the stories deal with difficult subjects, Lee Byrd's discerning and compassionate eye manages to wrest a gentle humor from even the worst of circumstances.
Order and Disorder
Major Six Pockets
When He Is Thirty-Seven
Hotter Here Than It Ever Was in New Jersey
Five in the Morning
My Sister Disappears
Am Entering Woods
Plans for a Wedding
In precise and elegantly poetic prose, Byrd paints disturbingly realistic pictures of the pain and beauty of difficult family situations. The title story documents the mental breakdown of a young girl as she prepares for the eighth-grade prom. In "Order and Disorder," the fragile reality of a housewife comes crashing down around her as her family rebels against the perfect world she has created for them in her own mind.
And in several tales, Byrd examines the horror and painful beauty of children who have survived devastating fires. "Hotter Here Than It Ever Was in New Jersey" portrays a woman going up against her young burned son as she attempts to bring him out of the hospital and into the world. And in the fantastic "Major Six Pockets," a family goes in search of the "perfect camping spot" with their two badly burned sons, just released from the hospital. These are remarkably beautiful and painful stories, and Byrd tells them with great skill and honesty.
Lee Byrd probes the souls of her characters, removes their masks, and lays bare their pain. This is a remarkable first book by one of the most sensitive voices from the Southwest today.
These stories will touch you. Some will break your heart. Lee Byrd's stories reveal the hidden strength that persists within our obvious fragility.
I am impressed with Lee Byrd's sensitivity as a writer and her intense ability to dive down into the heart of an extremely difficult situation and stay there until the story's all told.