In these eight short fictions, Hernstrom feeds on an autochthon rage, speaks directly but not simply in tones strong enough to convey sibilant victory or the clamor of disaster. Somehow he also manages to imbue dark tales with a mordant wit many admire, but few can match. He sings no simple paean. He tells no careworn tale. He advances no fallen guidon but has instead fashioned his own standard from those of the fallen. A contemporary reader can instantly mark the salient staked out by this collection across a no-man's land mired in imitation. Hernstrom's flag is one to which stout hearts rally. This book is a passport to new country, a point of departure for even wider vistas. Here is a voice which can tell of beauty in a moment, a heretofore unremarked weirdness in the old constellations, a sly joke. Here is a voice up for anything.