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Short Fiction
Quick Bright Things
by Ron Wallace

Price: $14.00
172 pages
trade paper
ISBN: 092281144X
LCCN #: 99-088117

Quick Bright Things is greater than the sum of its brilliant parts. The stories stand alone. Each of the twenty-one stories has individually appeared in prestigious journals, magazines, and anthologies. But this collection can also be read as a sequence of episodes from the lives of Peterson and Christine Kingsley and their daughters Jennifer and Phoebe.

In the title story, the last in the collection, Peterson Kingsley has begged off a trip with his wife and daughters to visit his in-laws. While on a solitary run along a Wisconsin country road, he reflects on the defining moments with his family. He recalls Lysander’s lament from A Midsummer-Night’s Dream: “So quick bright things come to confusion.”

With a poet’s lyricism, Wallace weaves the various moments into one man’s life experience and makes that experience universal. These stories always return to the question of whether tolerance, good temper, and sympathy can prevail in the face of destructive forces—whether ‘things,’ despite their confusion, can somehow remain ‘quick’ and ‘bright.’

Society of Midland Authors Award Finalist

“Ron Wallace's characters—the chronically worrying husband, the son bothered at his father's funeral by the bad part in his dad's hair, the vanity publisher of ViKing and Random Mouse presses—are as extraordinary and ordinary as your neighbors, friends, and family. They are real people with real lives. After reading Quick Bright Things, I know I won't forget them.”—Jesse Lee Kercheval

“Ron Wallace knows his craft, but, more importantly, he knows human nature. He understands the kinship we feel for any well-intentioned soul thrown off-balance by the seesaw motions of the world. With wry humor and a poet's sensibility, he reminds us how easily we lose ourselves to the unlooked-forlongings that undermine the heart.”—Clint McCown

“As do his accomplished poems, Ron Wallace's stories possess a marvelous comic intelligence, a life-embracing, inclusive compassion. Thurber and Brautigan are kin to this splendid collection. Read and enjoy!”—Kelly Cherry

“Ron Wallace has an inventive and witty imagination which takes him into all sorts of surprising directions. His work is not only sure in its craftsmanship, but humanly important in its subject matter and treatment. Best of all, it is exuberantly alive.”—Lisa Mueller

“In this remarkable collection Wallace garners, with compassion, candor, and affectionate attention, the grains that lend our lives their savor.”—Donald Finkel

Quick Bright Things is a jewel-box full of small jewels.”—X. J. Kennedy

“Ron Wallace's stories read like a lyrical novel; the individual short and short-short stories are like chapters depicting the passage through life of his protagonist, Peterson Kingsley, from a boy of twelve to a man 'pushing sixty.' Wallace moves us through Peterson's life quickly—it is easy to open this bookand continue until you bump into the back cover. Nonetheless, we experience Peterson's honestly proffered life deeply, remarkably able to linger over its highlights and its low points for some time after finishing the book. Perhaps recognized more for his poetry and literary criticism, Wallace is clearly adept at both the short story and the short-short forms. Highly recommended.”—Clockwatch Review

“Twenty-one stories crafted so cleanly, they sparkle; their edges so sharp, they gleam. Deftly done. A good read. Highly recommended as a book that slides right into your life, pokes you in the side and says, 'Hey, listen. Here's the way it happened.' And you do. Delightfully.”—The Pilot

“Ron Wallace is a neglected master of the short story. Most likely, he is neglected because he does everything right. His new collection, Quick Bright Things, is a flash of beautiful colors in the murky expanse of what passes for literary fiction. He's fast and furious and writing some of the best contemporary fiction.”—Sundog

“Wallace perfectly captures the rhythms and pacing of everyday life.”—The CapitalTimes

“Wallace's poetry is well-acclaimed among critics and other poets, and he's earned his reputation as one of the Midwest's finest poets. His prose lives up to the same artistic standards set in his poetry. All of Wallace's trademark elements—calm understatement, somber wisdom, perfect detail, joy overshadowed with worry—grace these stories, but the fictive realm allows Wallace to flex some new literary muscles: Wallace writes with a beaming compassion.”—WisconsinAcademy Review

“Like their central character, Peterson Kingsley, the stories in Ron Wallace's debut collection are modest and agreeable; it's almost as if they are surprised at their own occasional flashes of something exceptional. In gracefully written stories that follow him from boyhood to graduate school, marriage and middleage, the talented but indecisive Peterson struggles with his tendency to give others the upper hand. In the later stories we may wish Peterson would grab at something—some heightened experience or deeper thrill—instead of ruminating over his own limitations. But if Wallace puts his hero in the back seat in these stories, most of the time he makes us appreciate the view from there.”—NewYork Times Book Review

“A broad and often moving short story collection. The first of 21 entries,'Talking,' sets a dark tone for the book, but that tone increasingly lightens with humor and compassion as the stories accumulate. This progression reflects Peterson's journey toward maturity and solidifies his believability and likability. The title story is a sentimental but inspired recap of moments in Peterson's life that appeared in the previous stories, offering a deft and thematically satisfying closure for the collection.”—Publishers Weekly

“An outstanding collection. Taut, ambitious, and laced with the unexpected.”—St.Paul Pioneer Press

“Even as Wallace presents the loss and fears that every reader will be familiar with, he tears down those same feelings, presenting the bare skeletons of emotions with a wit and an insightfulness that cuts through the constructs of life to reveal a shadowy reality: truth varies on point of view.”—Big Muddy


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