North Arrow
by Dennis Barone

ISBN: 978-0-9792999-5-7
Perfect Bound, $15.00
Publication Date: December 2008
5 x 8 inches, 140 pages

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North Arrow is a collection of seventeen stories that traverse stylistic, emotional, and geographical landscapes. From New Jersey to the Netherlands to abstract poetic terrain, Dennis Barone places his characters in situations where they’re forced to confront the nature of memory, of change, and of finding one’s way in a society that can be hostile to those who circumvent its meager expectations. Barone’s stories are instructive, but their morals are not clear-cut or pedantic. Rather, Barone creates space for the reader to sidle up next to his characters—an ambitious film director in a secret, proto-Hollywood New Jersey of the past; a young woman trying to make her way as a large-animal veterinarian in the Netherlands; the author himself, attempting to weave together the near and distant strains of his memory—as they are faced with decisions that will determine not only their own identities, but the stamp they will leave on the world.

From North Arrow...

From the beginning of the story North Arrow

Out the window of the speeding train the ship yards, warehouses, and oil storage tanks soon gave way to the sandy soil of the nature preserve west of Hilversum. Jacqueline sat slouched in the orange vinyl-coated seat of the non-smoking car with her feet propped up on the seat in front of her, propped up between Mel’s legs. Neither of them said much. He had obviously wanted to ask her for quite sometime why she never told Robert and Betty that he was an electrician and when he finally did ask, after a number of false starts, he said no more. Her answer did not satisfy him, nor had she been satisfied by it. Yes, she had been caught in a bit of unfair omission, hastiness, and arrogance. This surprised her and she, too, grew tired and was content to stare out the window at the trees, fields, houses that they passed.
They looked at the world in opposite ways. From where she sat she saw where they were going while from where he sat he saw where they had been. As the train approached an intersection she saw the guard rail go down in front of them and all the people coming home on their bicycles from work stop, lean all their weight on one leg and rest the other atop a motionless pedal. He saw the guard rail go up as the train seemed to pick up speed, he saw the people at the intersection mount their bikes, and then he saw no more for as the train turned slightly upon its track the workers of the world disappeared from his view. She saw the huge radio tower dominate the sky ahead, its power seemingly pulling the train forward: a magnet. He saw the low roofs of a small village fade into the moist brown of the even lower sheep pens. She could see where the train would stop and how many passengers would board. He saw the empty station recede like the mouth of a cave from which they ran...

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