Coronado: Five Stories and a Play

Author: Dennis Lehane

From Dennis Lehane, the award-winning author of Mystic River, Shutter Island, and the Kenzie-Gennaro series, comes a striking collection of five short stories and a play.

A small southern town gives birth to a dangerous man with a broken heart and a high-powered rifle ...

A young girl, caught up in an inner-city gang war, crosses the line from victim to avenger ...

An innocent man is hunted by government agents for an unspecified crime ...

A boy and a girl fall in love while ransacking a rich man's house during the waning days of the Vietnam War ...

A compromised psychiatrist confronts the unstable patient he slept with ...

A father and a son wage a lethal battle of wits over the whereabouts of a stolen diamond and a missing woman ...

Along with completely original material, this new collection is a compilation of the best of Dennis Lehane's previously published short stories, including "Until Gwen," which was adapted for the stage in 2005 and appears in this book as the play Coronado.

At turns suspenseful, surreal, romantic, and tragically comic, these tales journey headlong into the heart of our national myths — about class, gender, freedom, and regeneration through violence — and reveal that the truth waiting for us there is not what we'd expect.

Coronado: Stories


Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

Tough-as-nails crime fiction transcends genre in this collection of five stories and a play ... One hopes Clint Eastwood (who directed the Oscar-winning film based on Lehane's superb Mystic River, 2001) will take a close look at "Running Out of Dog," a pungent slice of Southern Gothic noir populated by runaway canines, restless Vietnam vets and the alluring women who seduce them into one another's paths, fateful confrontations, and a savage fulfillment of its narrator's observation that "when hope comes late to a man, it's a dangerous thing." ... Lehane shows his talent for narrative economy in a brisk tale of revenge for drug-induced manslaughter ("Mushrooms") and a surprisingly rich account ("Gone Down to Corpus") of Texas high-school football jocks trashing the elegant homes of their "betters." ... The taut, disturbing "Until Gwen" employs grating, accusatory second-person narration to explore the murderous bonds linking a soulless con man, his hapless son (and sometime accomplice) and Gwen, whose fate drives the story toward its excruciating conclusion. And if all this weren't sufficient evidence of Lehane's virtuosity, there's Coronado, which expands "Until Gwen" into a two-act play (premiered in New York in 2005) that reshuffles its aforementioned characters into three doomed couples who enact a murderous and suicidal progression through dynamic action, detailed flashbacks and harrowing fantasy sequences. It's a knockout performance.

An impressive step forward for a writer of commanding gifts, who seems poised on the threshold of even greater accomplishment.

 

Library Journal (starred review):

Long before he became well known for Mystic River (2001), Lehane was writing short stories and teaching creative writing ... There's not a wasted word in these dark, spare tales about disenfranchised males of the South. "Until Gwen" moves like a chess game, pitting a heartbroken Bobby against his amoral father. Readers can appreciate it even more after reading Coronado. The play brings seemingly unrelated characters together in a bar (plenty of drinking and gun toting in these stories), and Lehane cleverly weaves them together, watching to see if we can figure out the crime. Just what is the ultimate crime ("What's worse than murder?" asks one character) might be the author's main theme, as Bobby, Elgin, Blue, and the others repeatedly flail against some tide they cannot control. Highly recommended for those who appreciate the psychological fiction of Pete Dexter and George Pelecanos.

 

Boston Herald:

Famous for such works as Mystic River and A Drink Before the War, one would think that Massachusetts author Dennis Lehane couldn't possibly outdo himself. You'd be wrong ... Lehane's newest book, Coronado, a collection of five short stories and a two-act play, is a brilliant, insightful and intriguing literary voyage.

 

Publishers Weekly:

Powerfully envisioned lives, recounted unflinchingly.

 

USA Today:

Dennis Lehane's new short-story collection, Coronado, is an apt reminder that the master of crime and literary fiction (Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone) is also a proficient short-story writer whose stories make us dig deep down into our own hopes and fears.

 

Miami Herald:

... a wide streak of Lehane's vivid and melancholy darkness winds through this mean, gripping collection, buffeting its bleak landscapes and shaping its desperate characters ... The centerpiece is the riveting "Until Gwen," which opens with an unforgettable image: "Your father picks you up from prison in a stolen Dodge Neon with an 8 ball in the glove compartment and a hooker named Mandy in the backseat.''

 

Washington Post:

The raw, surprising tales of passion and violence in Dennis Lehane's vivid new collection remind us anew why he is one of the most interesting young writers in America today.  Coronado -- the title, like "El Dorado" or "Shangri-la," refers to a paradise that the losers in these stories can dream of but never attain -- [affords a] new glimpse into one of the most unpredictable minds in current American fiction.

 

San Francisco Chronicle:

Damage is the theme of the five stories and short play in Coronado, an assured, technically impressive ... collection [that] affirms Lehane's versatility, even virtuosity.