These are stories about people searching for love or attempting to come to terms with an absurd and menacing world. The characters struggle to free themselves from loneliness and obsession, seeking peace that is seldom easy and sometimes impossible to find. In "The Heart of Alabama" a woman discovers too late that she has lost her two young sons to a world of violence, while in "The Child Soldier" a man searches desperately for love as he cares for his adopted grandson, a boy haunted by the time he has spent as a soldier for the Khmer Rouge. The boy struggles to escape from the ghosts of his past. Of these fourteen stories twelve are set in the deep South and two in the south of France. With a few exceptions the characters inhabit rural landscapes. In "Rising on Christmas" a man paddles a canoe down a whitewater river in Alabama and has a disturbing and dangerous encounter with a religious group who think that a dead deer caught in a hydraulic has a connection with Jesus. The French stories are set in the sparsely populated foothills of the Pyrenees in southwest France. In "Walking to Carcassonne" a man who avoided service during the Vietnam War and whose life is in shambles goes on a walking tour over the Pyrenees to visit the spot where his father died a hero's death during World War II.