Cover image for Limbo river
Limbo river
Hillis, Rick, 1956-2014.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, [1990]

General Note:
"Winner of the Drue Heinz literature prize, 1990"--P.
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Nine stories deal with a one-handed guitarist, a schoolteacher unwilling to face his true nature, a relieved widow, an aging nursing home attendant, pipeline workers, and a boy growing up with an alcoholic mother.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hillis' first collection of short stories, the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for 1990, begins with a few pieces that seem either condescending or stereotyped in the author's depiction of blue-collar lives and psyches. Hillis hits his stride later in this collection, however, with several portraits that are both affecting and funny, either in showing how a boy deals with his mother's alcoholism or in depicting the fantasies of a geriatric jock. A mixture of realism and farce distinguishes the author's style, and when these two elements are in balance, the results can be perfectly and profoundly hilarious yet moving at the same time. --John ~Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

This fine debut collection of stories, winner of the 1990 Drue Heinz Prize, is set largely in central and western Canada, but is not regionalist in flavor. Having gazed into the strangely impassive eye of a pig being butchered, the schoolteacher in ``The Eye'' is plagued by intrusive dreams and loses the ability to make eye contact. Not all the characters in these nine stories can identify the sources of the massive psychological blocks they live with, but the struggle of blunted sensibilities against fierce or whimsical destructive forces is a common theme. Hillis maneuvers well in his chosen fictional milieu of redneck pipefitters, deer hunters and neglected children, yet readers may find it easy to separate themselves from the pain of characters--partly due to a pervading element of farce, and partly because an indulgent sense of poetic justice directs the worst of the devastation against the more obnoxious characters. Nonetheless, in rich and figurative language so controlled that it at times seems terse, the author considers human behavior with empathy and impressive depth. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This collection of nine short stories is the winner of the 1990 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction, chosen by Russell Banks from 260 manuscripts by published writers. Hillis, a native of Canada, is a fresh, promising talent whose stories move easily from humor to gritty realism. In ``Summer Tragedy Report,'' a 13-year-old boy spends his summer vacation on a farm with earthy relatives who would be comfortable with the Beans of Egypt, Maine. In ``Blue'' and ``Big Machine,'' Norma works as a construction worker on a gas pipeline in an attempt to get off welfare and support her unemployed husband and two children. Each story in this impressive debut is a beautifully cut jewel, original and very entertaining. Highly recommended.-- Dean Willms, Fort Collins P.L., Col. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.