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Mosher leaves a masterpiece

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copyright the Chronicle December 20, 2017


Points North, short stories by Howard Frank Mosher. Published by St. Martin’s Press; 202 pages in paperback.

Reviewed by Chris Braithwaite


“Points North,” the 12-page story that opens Howard Mosher’s latest — and last — book is a small masterpiece.

It is a story about Freeman and W, about an old black man and his mixed-race grandson, the product of Freeman’s “ex-daughter” and a father described as “trash from the no-count Lord Hollow branch of the Kinneson family.”

They met when W was six, sitting on Freeman’s New Canaan doorstep with a note pinned to his overalls: “Over to u.”

To tell the story would be a disservice to the author and his readers. It is enough, perhaps, to say it is at times very funny, at other times quite sad, and at its conclusion triumphant — in an understated, Howard Mosher sort of way.

The dialogue is all that well-written dialogue should be. The briefest exchange gives the reader a glimpse of years of the sort of accommodation people are forced to make to each other, if they are to survive their proximity.

Here’s how the relationship begins:


After surveying the foundling silently for a few moments, Freeman said, “Do you like to fish?”

“I don’t mind,” the boy said.

“Get in the boat,” Freeman said.

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