In this tenth anniversary edition of K. L. Cook’s debut collection, the linked stories of Last Call span three generations in the life of one West Texas family. Events both tender and tragic lead to a strange and lovely vision of a world stitched together in tenuous ways as the characters struggle to make sense of their lives amid the shifting boundaries of marriage, family, class, and culture.
A series of unusual incidents—a daughter’s elopement, a sobering holiday trip, a vicious attack by the family dog, a lightning strike—provokes a mother of five to abandon her children. An oil rigger, inspired by sun-induced hallucinations, rescues his estranged wife, who doesn’t appreciate his chivalry. In the wake of his father’s and brother’s deaths, a teenage boy finds precarious solace working with his mother at a country-western bar. A woman fleeing her fourth marriage arrives at a complicated understanding of love and responsibility.
Cook’s stories—suggesting unlikely connections between comedy and pathos, cruelty and generosity—promise a hard-won dignity and hope.
K. L. Cook is the author of two other award-winning books of fiction, The Girl from Charnelle and Love Songs for the Quarantined. He teaches creative writing and literature at Prescott College and teaches in the MFA writing program at Spalding University.