House Fires


Nancy Reisman


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Edie in winter -- Heart of hearts -- Confessions -- Common light -- Sharks -- Dreaming of the snail life -- Rubies -- Girl on a couch -- Strays -- The good life


These eleven stories travel from snowbound Buffalo in the 1940s to present-day Boston, Providence, and San Francisco and across the domestic terrain of desire's unruly claims to the nuances of grief. In the title story, a young woman whose sister has been killed in a fire reckons with her parents' silent suffering and finds transcendence through film. In a series of stories set in post-World War II Buffalo and Manhattan, the members of a close-knit Jewish family are caught up in a maze of clandestine desires—none of which can be fulfilled. The collection's final series turns to one family's complex generational links: a college student confronted by her own assumptions about race and sexuality; a grandmother slipping into mental decline; a middle-aged mother juggling bewilderment, love, and grief.

Passion and heartbreak are often intertwined in these stories as Reisman reveals the ways in which women and men are inevitably shaped by their histories and the ways in which their bodies carry the legacy of loss.

Series Title

Iowa Short Fiction Award

Award Date



Marilynne Robinson

Publication Date



University of Iowa Press


Iowa City

Total Pages


ISBN of Print Version



Copyright © 1999 by Nancy Reisman. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, without permission in writing from the publisher.