Jeff Giles
February 14, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Wrecking Yard and Other Stories

Current Status
In Season
Pinckney Benedict
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it a B+

The first thing you notice about Benedict’s stories in The Wrecking Yard is the names of his characters. In ”Getting Over Arnette,” Loftus and Bone check out the action at the Bowl*O*Drome and get roughed up by a women’s bowling team. In ”The Wrecking Yard,” Perry and Weasel visit the scenes of some grisly auto accidents, including one in which a young woman has been thrown from her car. The names that appear on the back of Benedict’s book are equally eye-catching: Eudora Welty, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks. The writer comes from a West Virginia dairy farm by way of Princeton University and the attention he has received has at least partially to do with his being the oddest man out. His characters are the rural poor and his best stories have the weird, dark tones of local legends. At times, his world seems like one enormous freak show, but he renders it with an empathetic eye. In the end, the message is plain: ”Hell of a hard ride over them mountains, if you know what I mean.” B+

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