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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

John J. Clayton’s stories examine life in the modern world. Many of the characters come from the Jewish tradition, and always there is a thread running through the tapestry of words concerning family and connections. Those connections may be historical, or they may be physical, spiritual, or emotional bonds with family or friends. Often the boundaries of the relationships blur from within.

In the title story of RADIANCE: TEN STORIES, “The Man Who Could See Radiance,” Peter Weintraub has the ability to see beyond the normal confines of human vision. He sees with a new perception into the souls of his wife, his colleagues, even strangers. Sometimes the energy he sees is a positive force; often it is a jagged representation of evil. Peter comes to realize the pain and glory of the human condition, and the essential connections that we all share, as his unique vision unites him with humanity.

Clayton masterfully crafts relationships in these stories. In “Talking To Charlie,” David Kahn leaves the corporate world, and struggles to find peace with himself and his children following his divorce. His quest is presented as a story. As David redefines meaning in his life, the author/narrator also finds personal peace. In “History Lessons” relationships are once again the focus, as a class project becomes an epiphany experience for father and son. Each learns about love and healing.

The stories in this collection are moving tales about ordinary people, broken and bruised, learning as they go, about love, trust, truth, and healing. Through his characters, Clayton turns tragedies into celebrations of the human spirit. These are stories about hope.