The ties of family make for uncomfortable binds in Thomas McGuane’s first short story collection in nine years. A devoted son is horrified to discover his mother’s antics before she slipped into dementia. A father’s outdoor skills are no match for an ominous change in the weather. But complications arise equally in the absence of blood, as when lifelong friends on a fishing trip finally confront their deep dislike for each other. Or when a gifted traveling cattle breeder succumbs to the lure of a stranger’s offer of easy money.
Berl Pickett is a housepainter turned doctor living in the small town of Livingston, Montana. The son of Pentecostal rug-shampooers, Pickett has never been the social toast of the town, but when he is accused of negligent homicide in the death of his former lover, he finds himself ostracized by his colleagues and realizes just how small his little village truly is.