By Red Vaughn
Literature, more often than not, is in the subtleties. Sallie Bingham has a made a 40-year-career of quietly engaging prose that graces heavy themes with soft, thoughtful whispers and patient dissection—a concentrated approach that fills out upon reader reflection. The renowned feminist Bingham, who has penned 10 books and a handful of plays, this time parses out twelve broad-ranging short stories in Red Car, a collection of snapshots of vastly different (yet intimately familiar) lives. With a very accessible style that brings to mind the poised pen of Jean Giono, Bingham drops into a situation and everything is immediately cerebral; a calm intersection of fates in a snowbound Colorado town; the schism that grows between a long-married couple—as well as within themselves—as they watch a pornographic movie in a hotel; the alienated interloper in “His Sons,” who smiles past the impervious behaviors of a love interest and his boys while closing the gap between her current self and an entire previous history of which she wasn’t a part. Though the inward plights tend towards the female, the connective theme is usually troubled relationships between lovers, family members, strangers—the trouble itself, the protagonist.
Red Car: Stories by Sallie Bingham, Sarabande Books, $21.95, 192 pages