In this fine debut collection, things happen-big dramatic things like lost children, illicit sex, suicide, murder, even miracles-without a trace of melodrama, for the characters living in Hart's Grove act out of their own deep psychological needs and wounds. Dennis McFadden writes about carpenters and welders, roofers and butchers, men who react to life's twists and treacheries on an instinctual level, with seldom a hint of reflection. These ten linked tales, planted in the small, hilly town of Hart's Grove, Pennsylvania, provide a glimpse of ordinary people trying to go about the extraordinary business of living from day to day in a place where the collars are blue and the sleeves are plain, unadorned by the hearts of the wearers. Here are the lives of small-town people turned upside down by events and situations they are ill-equipped to understand, or even examine. Earl Radaker, in "Radaker's Angel," can't fathom why his wife has left him, unaware that the magic she claims is gone was ever there in the first place. In "Painting Pigs," Big Al Black is blindsided by a senseless murder that is beyond his ability to comprehend: "He had lived with cruelty all his life, and had thought he understood it to be a natural, human thing, simple the flip side of kindness. But he was wrong." And in "Bye Baby Bunting," Dave Geer finds himself in the middle of his life, literally and metaphorically in a dark and pathless place, searching, for reasons he can't understand, for a little boy lost in the woods. There is wit and wisdom in these sometimes poignant, often laugh-out-loud stories, which ultimately speak to the human capacity to change, at any stage of life, without ever leaving home. With insight and compassion, McFadden examines these complex questions and contradictory, fully realized characters. The result is a penetrating and indelible portrait that elevated to the level of art the lives of commonplace people.