From the author of the National Book Award-winning Arctic Dreams comes a masterful work of fiction, a collection of stories that balances the marvelous and the real, intellect and heart, with extraordinary grace.
Set variously in Peru, Chine, the Caribbean, California, and the American West, here are tales of men and women exploring the landscapes of their own innocence and desire; confronting violence, estrangement, and the disillusionment of war; or encountering the hope, fierce integrity, defiance, and wisdom of others. A packet of recently discovered seventeenth-century Peruvian love letters presents a twentieth-century man with the paralyzing choice of either protecting or exposing their stunning secret. A man's encounter with a young deaf girl ("eerie in her stillness and independence") rearranges his notions of pity. When some young boys on the lookout for easy money get caught with a truckload of stolen horses, their fates raise questions of justice and redemption. For a group of convicts, a gathering of birds in the prison yard may be the key to transcendence, both figurative and literal. Here are saints who shouldn't touch, but do; sinners who insist on the life of the spirit; a postcard paradise that turns into a nightmare.
With "Light Action in the Caribbean," Barry Lopez, whose fiction has been hailed as "haunting... mysterious" (Time) and "superb...exquisitely wrought" (SF Chronicle), carries his central concerns — place, compassion, memory, the quest of the traveler — to exciting new frontiers, both geographic and emotional.
Moving from fable and historical fiction to contemporary realism, this book of stories from Barry Lopez is erotic and wise, full of irresistible characters doing things they shouldn't do for reasons that are mysterious and irreducible. In "The Letters of Heaven," a packet of recently discovered 17th-century Peruvian love letters presents a 20th-century man with the paralyzing choice of either protecting or exposing their stunning secret. When some young boys on the lookout for easy money get caught with a truckload of stolen horses, thievery quickly turns into redemption. For a group of convicts, a gathering of birds in the prison yard may be the key to transcendence, both figurative and literal. And, with the title story, Lopez enters a territory of unmitigated evil reminiscent of Conrad. Here are saints who shouldn't touch, but do; sinners who insist on the life of the spirit; a postcard paradise that turns into nightmare. Light Action in the Caribbean has already been hailed by Russell Banks as "tough-minded, emotionally turbulent, and always intelligent." E. Annie Proulx describes these stories as "subtle and mysterious" and says that a reader "cannot leave Lopez's fictional territory unchanged." This is a book that breaks exciting new ground for Barry Lopez.
Barry Lopez is the author of eight previous works of fiction and six works of nonfiction. His stories and essays appear regularly in "Harper's, The Paris Review, Orion," and the "Georgia Review." In addition to the National Book Award, he is the recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science foundations. He lives in western Oregon.
"Lopez is one of our finest writers." --Los Angeles Times Book Review "In each story the familiar world is transformed in a dramatic or magical moment." --The Oregonian
"This is a collection of subtle and mysterious stories... The reader cannot leave Lopez's fictional territory unchanged." --Annie Proulx
Short-listed for Oregon Book Awards (Fiction) 2001