Close Is Fine by Eliot Treichel
Close Is Fine is a collection of 8 short stories featuring people who live and work on farms, at blue-collar jobs, and in the forests and taverns of Wisconsin, especially the area around Antigo and Shawano, and is a good choice for people who appreciate reflective, character-driven stories with a Wisconsin connection. These are not stories of dramatic redemption or tearful endings. The appeal of the stories is in the description of one particular event that happens to an ordinary individual at one point in time.
In the first story, “Good Potato Soil,” three young men are renting a farmhouse. One of the men has to return to jail and his young daughter is dropped off at the farmhouse for the summer. In “We’re Not That,” a girl rescues a nest of mice from her family’s farm dog. “Papermaker Pride” is about a losing high school soccer team during Homecoming. “The Lumberjack’s Story” is the only story of the collection that is set in the 19th century. A married male teacher becomes intimate with a female sled dog racer in “On By.” The owner of the Stargazer tavern feuds with a neighbor and finds an orphaned bear cub in “The Stargazer.” In the title story, “Close Is Fine,” a construction worker and his wife are in the middle of a divorce, and he is jealous when she starts seeing someone else even though he also has started an affair with a soldier’s wife. In the last story, “The Golden Torch,” a father and son, who are on the volunteer fire department, practice their firefighting skills by burning an abandoned tavern called Carol’s Golden Torch.
An interesting part of the book is the interview with the author where he talks about growing up in Wisconsin and his writing process. Close Is Fine is currently on the New Fiction shelves at the Library.