House Fires

House Fires

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224 pages

“Individuals and generations are interwoven in these stories, intricately and delicately, as if to persuade the reader that innumerable threads of mystery and surprise are worked into the closest fabric of intimacy and familiarity. There is a rapt respect for human singularity in the writing that readers will be grateful to share.”—Marilynne Robinson

“Fire blooms,” writes Nancy Reisman, “blooms again, marking us, dismantling what we believed inviolable. At times we can do nothing but record its stunning recklessness.” The award-winning stories in House Fires sift through the smoldering evidence of relationships come undone. In lyrical and sometimes haunting prose, Reisman explores the private histories of families and lovers spiraling toward catastrophe.

These eleven stories travel from snowbound Buffalo in the 1940s to present-day Boston, Providence, and San Francisco and across the domestic terrain of desire's unruly claims to the nuances of grief. In the title story, a young woman whose sister has been killed in a fire reckons with her parents' silent suffering and finds transcendence through film. In a series of stories set in post-World War II Buffalo and Manhattan, the members of a close-knit Jewish family are caught up in a maze of clandestine desires—none of which can be fulfilled. The collection's final series turns to one family's complex generational links: a college student confronted by her own assumptions about race and sexuality; a grandmother slipping into mental decline; a middle-aged mother juggling bewilderment, love, and grief.

Passion and heartbreak are often intertwined in these stories as Reisman reveals the ways in which women and men are inevitably shaped by their histories and the ways in which their bodies carry the legacy of loss.