First review of DOWN ALONG THE PINEY

Mort, John (author).
Sept. 2018. 210p. Univ. of Notre Dame, paper, $20 (9780268104061).
REVIEW. First published August, 2018 (Booklist).

In his return to the short form, Vietnam veteran Mort (Soldier in Paradise, 2013) delivers 13 stories about everyday Americans looking for love, acceptance, and a place to call home. The tales are set all over North America, but as in his previous books, the Ozarks take center stage. A military veteran who goes by the name Killer and lives with a wolf on a swampy island heads into town for help with his aching teeth. A blue-collar Georgia Don Juan skips town to escape his sudden popularity after winning the lottery. An intelligent but unambitious thief flees his Missouri home to find solace on the Florida coast, where he falls in with a family making money netting mullet. And a middle-aged salesman dreams of settling in Costa Rica with his partner when he’s forced from his home in Chicago to visit his ailing father and zealous mother in Florida. Mort’s understated, funny, and deeply moving collection illustrates the entangled decisions behind escaping or embracing small-town life in the South—a world of guns, big storms, and living off the land.

— Jonathan Fullmer

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