Christina's Reviews > The Cage Keeper and Other Stories

The Cage Keeper and Other Stories by Andre Dubus III
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Dec 22, 09

bookshelves: 2009-reads
Read in December, 2009

A collection of short stories by the author of House of Sand and Fog, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories delve into the actions, thoughts, and motives of criminals, ex-cons, and those who work in the criminal justice system, and into the lives of those who fall between in the cracks of society. In the title story, a halfway house worker is kidnapped by one of the inmates, Elroy, and forced to drive Elroy to Canada, to freedom. Along the way, Allen discovers why Elroy killed and as a result struggles to come to terms with his role in keeping Elroy locked up.

In "Duckling Girl," a teenager seeks relief from her sexually abusive father with two similarly abusive teenage boys. "Wolves in the Marsh" is about a young boy’s coming of age as he goes hunting alone. In "Forky," for which Dubus won a National Magazine Award for Fiction, an ex-con is haunted by abuse he suffers immediately upon being released from prison. "Mountains" is told from the viewpoint of Sally, a waitress, who loves a Vietnam vet with post traumatic stress syndrome. In "White Trees, Hammer Moon," a man finds himself unprepared for a family camping trip in New Hampshire while knowing he'll be headed to prison soon, and in the final short story, "Last Dance," tells the story of a young man excepting the end of an affair.

Of the seven stories, there were only two I could really slip into -- "The Cage Keeper" and "Mountains" -- with the other five either not capturing my attention or failing to have characters I could understand. With those short stories I did enjoy, Dubus was great at delving into the thoughts and reasoning behind who his characters are and where they are coming from. And how can I not love that cover? It's so fitting as it echos the dark and foreboding nature of the tales and the movement of the characters. Anyways, as this is my first time reading a collection of short stories rather than an individual story, I hope this will not continue to be the case with every collection I read.
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