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In seven stories set in the rural South and West Cecil Dawkins displays her remarkable talent for getting beneath the surface of ordinary lives and revealing their foibles and idiosyncrasies An old deaf woman is kidnapped by a stranger she takes to be the devil; an atom bomb is tested in the Arizona desert; a man shoots a housebreaker dead; a son comes home for a funeral; a child disappears; a boy has his faith destroyed; a parched money grubbing man meets a woman no less hard From these occasions Dawkins distills strong rich storiesDawkins writes about people not sharply aware of their own motives or the sources of their emotions people blinkered by life in remote places or by lack of good fortune The remarkable power of her stories comes from the way she can express so much through characters who themselves can express little She does it by her brilliant evocation of background and the truthfulness of her observation and by her gift of compassionate understanding which demolishes the distances between people

10 thoughts on “The Quiet Enemy (Contemporary American Fiction)

  1. says:

    I never know what to say about short story collections so I've been postponing reviewing this book which I read back in August 2016 Cecil Dawkins a woman born in Alabama still living at the age of 90 in New Mexico and a close friend of Flannery O'Connor published this collection in 1963 Around half of the stories here were completely stunning as good as any I've read in years I want to read by her

  2. says:

    This is a book of seven short stories about the mid century Southern and Western US It's become one of a handful of books to teach me that going into an author's work blind can be a beautiful thingOne thought I had about halfway through the collection was that it reminded me a lot of Joyce's Dubliners On some level this is probably because there's a significant personal revelation at the heart of each story Suddenly the world is different after someone enters or maybe someone's left; have I been looking at it wrong the whole time—that sort of thing The level of punch in each revelation varied for me and you'd probably find some poignant than I did since Dawkins lays out a wide variety of experiences here Social situations from rural isolation to suburban fussbudgeting are all dissected here with great care given to building worlds through the eyes of the charactersRegardless of my preference for any given tale I will stand by the fact that Eminent Domain the opening story was well chosen a deaf woman living on an abandoned farm is visited by the devil It captures the bleakness that comes with eroding senses and eroding livelihoods and plays with power dynamics between the sexes the generations and the moral grey areasActually most of the stories deal with individuals' struggles for power That one may have just had the best endingOverall The uiet Enemy was a discovery worth making

  3. says:

    A compendium of early stores by Cecil Dawkins a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford 1952 53 All good stories—the title story is the best A compelling intelligent voice from a southern writer who doesn't feel all that southern A longtime compatriot of Flannery O'Connor currently residing in Taos NM