11 a.m. | McIntyre's Books
On a rainy November night in 1991 Guy Ferrin and his wife, Eva Summer, are on their way home from an opera when a nine-year-old Montagnard boy runs in front of their car. Although his blood alcohol measures well below the legal limit, Guy, who has recently lost his job to a newspaper merger, is charged with felony death by motor vehicle. When the district attorney loses a piece of evidence vital to Guy’s case, which is sensationalized in the local media, his grief slowly turns to anger. Eva’s relationship with to their son becomes erratic, alternately over-protective and resentful of his privilege, and when she turns to her friends for support she discovers that they are all preoccupied with their own mid-life problems. The victim’s brother, who comes to them seeking “American insurance” to help his sister escape an abusive marriage, will draw Eva into the local community of Montagnard refugees, where she will begin to heal, though her involvement forces a crisis in her marriage. Compellingly real and beautifully told, At Random is at once the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to maintain their their values and an increasingly tenuous hold on the middle class and the tale of a refugee family caught between a younger generation’s desire to assimilate and the older generation’s determination to preserve their native culture.
Lee Zacharias is the author of two previous books of fiction, the short story collection Helping Muriel Make It Through the Night (LSU Press), and the novel Lessons (Houghton Mifflin), and a volume of personal essays, The Only Sounds We Make, that will be published in the Spring of 2014 by Hub City Press. A previous winner of North Carolina’s Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction and the Prairie Schooner Glenna Luschei and Southern Humanities Review Theodore Christian Hoepfner awards for nonfiction, she has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in both print and online journals, including storySouth, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review, and Five Points among others, and her nonfiction has been reprinted in The Best American Essays. A practicing photographer and former editor of the literary journal The Greensboro Review, she has taught at the University of Arkansas, Princeton University, and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she is Emerita Professor of English.