New from the author of the critically acclaimed novels, A Brother’s Blood and The Blind Side of the Heart, Marked Men is a gripping collection of twelve wide-ranging stories about those unexpected moments in our lives when the layers of our defenses are peeled away, one by one, and we are left with the harsh inevitability of our fates. Touching on themes of loneliness and isolation, White deals with characters who have been alienated from society, from family and friends, from their past, and sometimes from their own feelings.
“What does it take to derail a life? In White’s first story collection . . . it can be something dramatic, like the death of a child or a crippling accident, or it can be something more quiet, like an early retirement or just too many years on the road. White seizes on pivotal incidents like these in 12 thoughtful tales about doggedly regular people and their private struggles to make one day move into the next. In the title story, a father and son, one a veteran of WWII, the other of Vietnam, drink through a long night, arguing about who had a more difficult tour of duty. Intent on judging who suffered most, they seem unable to recognize how intimately their experiences connect them. In “Burn Patterns,” a traveling arson investigator is jerked out of his numbing routine when he picks up a quirky female hitchhiker, while in “Disturbances,” a rural doctor is more literally yanked awake by a late-night call to pronounce a man dead. He does indeed find the man stone cold, blown open by a shotgun, but also discovers a complicated moral situation that stirs old memories. Like that story, “Ray’s Shoes” shows ordinary people in a situation more complex than they had anticipated, as a couple agrees to help a young man whose wife has just died . . . White offers simple observations that resonate in the reader’s mind.”