Stones in My Passway, Hellhound on My Trail by T. Coraghessan Boyle

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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Stones in My Passway, Hellhound on My Trail’’ appears in Boyle’s Greasy Lake and Other Stories (1985), a collection that was well received by critics. Most felt that the promise Boyle displayed in his earlier work is more fully realized in this collection. The stories have been applauded for their diverse subject matter as well as Boyle’s innovative style and wit. Larry McCaffery, in his review for The New York Times Book Review, calls the stories in the collection ‘‘brilliant,’’ even though, he argues, they exhibit some unevenness in execution. McCaffery applauds the stories thematic focus, commenting that they ‘‘display a vibrant sensibility fully engaged with American society and with the wonder and joy that defiantly remain a part of our culture as well.’’ Denis Hennessy, in his article on Boyle for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, praises Boyle’s ‘‘never-ending supply of surprises and ironies’’ in the stories.

McCaffery singles out ‘‘Stones in My Passway, Hellhound on My Trail,’’ suggesting that the story ‘‘may be the collection’s most powerful piece.’’ He especially praises the ending that, he insists, contains ‘‘a passage of extraordinary beauty that illustrates Mr. Boyle’s feel for human passions and sensuous evocative prose.’’