All The Roads That Lead From Home
by Anne Leigh Parrish
Press 53, 2011
Surrogate, from this collection,
won first place in The Pinch’s 2008 Literary Award.
the Roads that Lead from Home, the title story of this collection, was awarded First Place in American
year, or five or ten, they might mention the diary and say it was
Ted's flight of fancy, an expression of true creative genius, or
they might call it something else they can't imagine now.
when he declared those things to her under the stars above the lake,
he didn't know that Joshua would one day write them in his diary.
And the day she saw Jimi Hendrix at the airport, Nina didn't know
that she would later say Ruth saw him first and then begged for the
autograph when Nina did both, because Ruth died alone, unable to
reach home, and Nina didn't.
Reviewed by Carol Reid
The statue was
really a lawn ornament, a crude Madonna, between three and four feet
The opening lines of
Surrogate strike me as a neat demonstration of Anne Leigh
Parrish's particular accomplishment in this collection. She creates
a world in which characters and circumstances remain what they are
but through consistently applied scrapes and trauma, crudeness erodes
a woman's slow journey through grief after a failed pregnancy. Her
loss has made her "too lazy to live" as her husband says, until
an innocent accident caused by her tenant's neglected daughter
illustrates that she has clung to her hollowness as if it were a
child itself. There is no great drama or parting of the storm clouds
here, just a simple decision to go on and risk more pain, to try
These stories are
loosely linked by a thread of place. The town of Dunston is a roughly
sketched presence, its most memorable feature a gorge where leapers
regularly nosedive, prodded by tedium, misery, shame or whatever
emotional force becomes irresistible. Dunston is a university town,
and in The Fall a misfit student's mental collapse is
charted with harrowing precision. This is a beautifully paced story
which leads inevitably to the bridge but manages to deny its call in
a moment of surprisingly believable transcendence.
Then the light rose
enough so that an icicle hanging from a dark ledge of shale was
illuminated. It seemed to glow. Kirsten had never seen anything so
beautiful. She didn't understand how the light had reached the ice
before falling on anything else. Soon other icicles were coming to
life, turning a faint, warm yellow.
Several of Parrish's
characters have made justified tracks from Dunston but, as in Snow
Angels, are compelled to return and re-process the intricate
cruelties of family life. Its protagonist, Cory, displays her pain in
her own tattoos and in her profession as a tattoo artist. This
story's portrait of a sibling relationship is both mind-and-
She'd used it
growing up, a power she had over him. Tell me this and I'll show
you that. What she'd wanted to know was always about their
father, what he'd said about her, what he'd do next where she was
concerned. What she got for her trouble were things like he loves
me better and he says I'm a lot smarter than you, pain
she left on the bodies she marked for life and in the ears of the
young men who shared her bed before Vic came along.
As it turns out,
rough-spoken, uncomplicated Vic could well be the snow angel of the
piece and his open loyalty to Cory her saving grace.
Pinny and the Fat
Girl impressed me as one of the most genuine stories of teenage
friendship I've read in some time. These two girls have few or none
of the assets that help ease the journey through adolescence and they
don't escape unscathed, by any means. Predictably and realistically
enough, a boy comes between them, a situation which is resolved in a
way that truly made me laugh and touched my heart. Despite their
setbacks, the girls are tough, resourceful and ultimately so decent
that as a reader I felt fortunate to have met them.
story in this collection presents a solitary journey, but the journey
runs through a peopled landscape which offers slivers of comfort and
hope. Parrish allows the reader to believe in the power of human
connection in the face of all our troubles and flaws.