American Standard (Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize) by John Blair

By John Blair

Winner of the 2002 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Selected through Elizabeth Hardwick

It is tough to work out what lurks underneath the skin of a muddy river, an alligator-infested lake, or a John Blair brief tale. The deep currents that force a demure, religious, church-going lady to shoot her husband; the ripple impression of a dead night rendezvous at church adolescence camp that is going slightly—then horribly—askew; the sinkholes that could swallow Porsche dealerships—or marriages; what's dredged up in American Standard can't simply be forgotten.

Set quite often in primary Florida, Blair’s tales are choked with humans dwelling lives of disquieting longing and obdurate isolation. For them, this is often the yank typical, as ubiquitous and undistinguished as vitreous china toilet fixtures.

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