A wide variety of characters saunter, stalk, run, and sometimes hide in these lively stories about contemporary Southerners. Their experiences revolve around the way life is felt and the way it is lived, reflecting a gap between the plans we make for ourselves and the way things actually turn out. From the jungles of Vietnam to the bayous of Louisiana, from the French countryside to Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ely's stories reveal how human beings' unpredictable, unconscious motivations will have their say no matter what steps are taken to silence them. Certain shadows fall over all the characters - especially the shadows of the Vietnam experience and the struggle between a traditional Southern heritage and the conflicting ideals of contemporary society. The characters in Ely's stories seem powerless to defend themselves against the ever-changing expectations of a modern life, and yet they gain a new humanity and depth when, with dignity, they embrace their limitations.