By now, [the shad] would have been baking for hours, the bones soft and gelatinous in the tough salty flesh. Ronnie could almost taste it, intense and rare, not like food at all. It was like love, she thought. Something you thought you should have until it was right there in front of you and you realized you were committed to it whole.
Set on the Mattaponi Indian Reservation and its surrounding counties, the stories in this linked collection detail the lives of rural men and women with stark realism and plainspoken humor. A young military couple faces a future shadowed by injury and untold secrets. A dying alcoholic attempts to reconcile with his estranged children. And an elderly woman's nurse weathers life with her irascible charge by making payments on a decrepit houseboat--the Mattaponi Queen. The land is parceled into lots, work opportunities are few, and the remaining inhabitants must choose between desire and necessity as they navigate the murky stream of possession, love, and everything in between.