In Mending, Sallie Bingham follows the often brutal course of yearning and its disappointments with an emotional acuity both unflinching and vigilant. From the first assertions and compromises of sexuality-those accommodations that tug and chafe-to the constrictions of adulthood and, finally, the fixed contours of a maturity where need has been winnowed down, but so has our ability to accommodate, Bingham’s stories radiate with an honesty that is as insistent as it is compassionate. These stories, spanning a career of 50 years and ranging from the fecund Kentucky of her youth to the starker landscapes of New Mexico, have been called “sharp, elegant narratives” by Entertainment Weekly and “luminous” by Publishers Weekly. Taken together, they offer a vision of our inexhaustible hope that there might be a fitting home for the heart.
Download a .pdf excerpt of the book, courtesy of Sarabande Books.
Praise for Mending: New and Selected Stories:
“The layers of the unspoken in Bingham’s stories afford them the repleteness of novellas, belying their accessible surfaces, which are as absorbing as gossip. Why would a vegetarian shoot an elk? Why did the young novelist go stay alone with his wife’s sister on Nantucket? Why does the ambassador’s shy daughter stop feeling homesick in Paris? The stories couldn’t be more engaging, yet they arouse an oddly satisfying uneasiness that you’re missing something vital; no sooner do you finish reading one than you want to read it again. Their artistry is as hypnotic and unanalyzable as Roger Federer’s tennis. Selected from five decades’ work, these stories distill the mysterious glow that lives emanate as they recede into the past, and confirm Bingham’s place in the front rank of practitioners of this elusive genre.”
“Bingham’s work, including favorites such as “The Wedding” and “Sweet Peas,” remains sharp and deliciously unsettling, ripe for discovery by a new generation of readers.”
“This collection of new and selected stories spans work from 1967 to the present by an important writer who is too little known. These stories are remarkable for their economy of language and for the author’s ability, within a small frame, to allow the undefined but intense emotion of a central character (male or female, young or old) to sharpen in focus to the point at which both reader and character share the surprise of insight. In “August Ninth at Natural Bridge,” from Bingham’s 1972 collection, The Way It Is Now, a family’s traditional birthday outing becomes the setting for a girl’s seemingly typical teenage surliness to open out gradually into a terrifying understanding of sexual gamesmanship. These stories end with a stunning metaphoric resonance. In the more recent “Apricots,” for instance, a 63-year-old teacher allows herself to be seduced by a student helping her can apricots. Toward the end of the story, Bingham moves from action to recollection with the following sentence: “Later, Caroline remembered the flesh of the apricots, their slight graininess, the moisture that was not dripping like the sweetness of peaches but absorbed, contained.” VERDICT Like the fruit in “Apricots,” the stories in this rich collection are characterized by a ripeness of language and the graininess of surprising truths.”
“Sallie Bingham’s characters scrutinize their relationships with children, lovers, and their own treacherous souls…. Nearly every one of these flinty stories is a tiny masterpiece.”
“These engaging tales span landscape, gender, and age, and readers will treasure Bingham’s strikingly perceptive composition and refined, clever flashes of detail and clarity.”
“She has a poet’s eye for the significant incident. She has a playwright’s ear for dialogue. She has the essayist’s sense of a developing argument. These traits come to a wonderful fulfillment in her short fiction.”