Searching for Intruders: A Novel in Stories by Stephen Raleigh Byler
9780066212944 In an impressive debut, Stephen Raleigh Byler unveils in eleven stories the evolving self-awareness of Wilson Hues, a hapless drifter in rural Pennsylvania who finds himself, in strange moments of illumination, obsessed with the consequences of his own action and inaction. Hues is caught in the throes of a male-dominated and sometimes violent home life and subculture. His dark memories -- rendered in vignettes between stories and serving as a backdrop for his everyday life -- intrude upon his relationships with both men and women in such a way as to remind him of his own tenderness and weakness. In "Helper," a story preceded by a glimpse of his father and mother fighting, Hues confronts and nearly fights a man he witnesses slapping a woman in the face. "Beauty Queen," a story set off by a vignette of his father forcing his mother on a diet, finds Hues contemplating the possibility that his own behavior may have contributed to his beauty-queen ex-wife's decision to scar her face. The later stages of the book reveal how Hues's tortured memories fuel his desire for a woman dying of cancer and his obsession with the possible presence of a violent intruder in his and his dying girlfriend's home. In this piercing look at a man struggling to reconcile the effect of the past on his presen day actions, Byler writes about hunting, fishing, love, loss, and relationships with a sensitivity and warmth that balance the darker currents of his themes and the emotional torment of his characters. Tender and exuberant, visceral and reflective, Searching for Intruders is a celebration of life in all of its beauty and pain. Byler's precise, artful fiction is sure to resonate with readers everywhere.