The Venus Tree

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138 pages

"Michael Pritchett's haunting and austere stories linger a long time in the mind. His characters seem to be exploring their way through a world of clues and secrets and his writing has such persuasive force that the reader shares in their explorations, coming to understanding as they do. His style is strong and unpretentious, often capable of real unforced poetry. His images seem compounded naturally out of the weather of his people's lives."—Robert Stone

In The Venus Tree Michael Pritchett powerfully explores the themes of lost innocence—innocence abandoned, stolen, and occasionally regained or revisited. As his characters encounter many emotionally charged and sometimes profoundly unsettling situations, Pritchett's sympathetic writing renders their struggles with deft, compassionate, and lyrical strokes.

In "People," the owner of a souvenir shop on the interstate highway befriends a young woman whom he believes can help him overcome the poverty of his own background. A widower in "Time Lines" must come to grips with the death of his wife before he loses the woman who tries to help him through his grief. And in "Flying Lessons," a young man dramatically tries to flee his mother and her strong, damaging influence.

Set in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and other midwestern and western states, these stories have a grit and an authenticity that set them apart from other current fiction. Against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, of open plains and fertile farmland, of skeet shooting and hunting, Pritchett's characters confront lives that reverberate with truth.