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Linked Short Stories

The Sunday Salon.com

I have repeatedly spoken about my not being well-read in short stories, which usually don’t leave a trail in my head and I need something more hearty and meaty like a long novel to nibble on. Alice Fulton’s collection of short fiction might remedy my deficiency. The 10 linked short stories in this collection track the lives of four generations of women from Troy, N.Y., where love comes to die. The first story begins in 1908, and subsequent stories are spaced approximately a decade apart, creating a colorful patchwork of the 20th century. She may be a poet of the higher realms but her prose in this book is muscular and brilliantly appropriate. Beautiful sentences, beautifully crafted, never get in the way of the story she is telling; they just make the reader’s experience richer and more satisfying. Some of the women she inhabits in telling their stories are bereft of humor, but when her character is a woman of wit, she is hilarious.

According to the New York Times, Fulton is an award-winning poet, so “it should come as no surprise that vivid descriptions abound.” If this collection is any indication, Fulton may be firmly establishing herself in a different genre. She once said she is drawn to the symbolic elements of a poem, how they act as a “pattern of lace held together by tiny joining threads.” Her prose, however, might be regarded as a tightly woven blanket. It’s exciting to watch Fulton as she finds the right threads with which to create nuanced fiction, firmly bound.