The Quiet Enemy

Stories by Cecil Dawkins

Starkly realistic stories, punctuated by often spiritual revelations


"Dawkins has an instinct for harsh confrontations, an eye for the moment that sears."
New York Times Book Review

"Her stories have the special power, which usually belongs to poetry, of haunting the mind."

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In seven stories set in the rural South and West, Cecil Dawkins displays her remarkable talent for getting beneath the surface of ordinary lives and revealing their foibles and idiosyncrasies. An old deaf woman is kidnapped by a stranger she takes to be the devil; an atom bomb is tested in the Arizona desert; a man shoots a housebreaker dead; a son comes home for a funeral; a child disappears; a boy has his faith destroyed; a parched, money-grubbing man meets a woman no less hard. From these occasions Dawkins distills strong, rich stories.

Dawkins writes about people not sharply aware of their own motives or the sources of their emotions--people blinkered by life in remote places or by lack of good fortune. The remarkable power of her stories comes from the way she can express so much through characters who themselves can express little. She does it by her brilliant evocation of background and the truthfulness of her observation, and by her gift of compassionate understanding, which demolishes the distances between people.

Page count: 224 pp.
Trim size: 5 x 7.75


List price: $24.95

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Cecil Dawkins, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, now lives in New Mexico. In addition to The Quiet Enemy, she is the author of two novels, The Live Goat and Charleyhorse, and a play, The Displaced Person, which is based on stories by Flannery O'Connor. Her stories have appeared in the Georgia Review, Paris Review, Sewanee Review, and other literary magazines.