In The Luck of the Fall, characters get lost; they fall, but the falls shape their lives in ways that might even be called “lucky”—if luck is defined as survival, despite the scars left behind. They take consolation in their lack of prizes, in the clarity of their failures, while approaching the future with gallows humor and faith in cynicism. Some stories read like dramatic monologues in the longer play of lives along Eight Mile Road on the edge of Detroit, a landmark location throughout Daniels’s six other fiction collections. Among the looming hulks of abandoned factories, near-nihilistic lives struggle in the absence of the comforting shadows those factories provided. Some keep score, some don’t, as they search for validation, however brief, before the curtain comes down and anonymity returns. COVID shows up with its masked consequences, along with addiction, divorce, unwanted pregnancy, and mental illness. None of these characters fit in, but all are trying to keep from being squeezed out entirely. In The Luck of the Fall, the logic of the heart wins out, even as the characters are picking up the pieces of their broken lives, looking for something shiny called hope.
Jim Ray Daniels’s six previous fiction collections have received many prizes, including a Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, a Midwest Book Award, a Michigan Notable Book of the Year Award, and a Finalist Award for the Paterson Fiction Prize. He has authored numerous poetry collections, four produced screenplays, and has edited six anthologies, including RESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music. He is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University. A native of Detroit, he lives in Pittsburgh and teaches in the Alma College low-residency MFA program.