Books: Out of the Woods

By Chris Offutt

Everything works except plot in the author's third book of short stories, which is to say, everything is believable except what happens. The stories are good anyway. Offutt knows his people--Kentucky men, drinkers, loners unsurprised at being kicked out by wives or girlfriends. He dreams in their language: "The next time I visited Tarvis, I drank the neck and shoulders out of a fifth while he talked." But Tarvis commits suicide in an elaborate, pop-novel way. Another man, a trucker, picks up a woman in a bar, is later arrested for dynamiting a dam, still later learns that the woman, for...

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