Compelling Rides Through the Rust Belt
By Josie Sigler
Livingston Press, $19.95, 187 pages
In The Galaxie and Other Rides, author Josie Sigler offers one dozen superbly crafted stories, mostly about lower-class characters from around post-industrial Detroit, part of the so-called Rust Belt. In “Deep, Michigan” a car theft prompts a young man to enter the army, leaving his girlfriend behind; his return from the Iraq war is shattering. In “Breakneck Road”, a cardboard box beside an icy highway holds a surprise for an ex-con and his girlfriend that will overturn their lives. “The Johns”, a technical tour de force, is told entirely in second person. And “The Last Trees in River Rouge Weep for Carlotta Contadino” – a story so rich and complex it could have been a novel – tells of two young women struggling against repressive family traditions, violence, and the conflicted loyalties of love.
“She stroked my hair, the way we had always grieved together, piled into the El Camino with her sister, old magazines and licorice sticks, a hand tangled or braiding, saying, You can endure. You can.”
Each story in The Galaxie is vividly realized and rich in concrete details of setting and character. Sigler’s willingness to be absolutely true to her characters, no matter the cost, moves each story quietly but inexorably to its fated conclusion. This is marvelous writing, stories that any lover of literary fiction will want to read and savor.
Reviewed by Daniel Hobbs