Allegiance and Betrayal by Peter Makuck
"These stories dramatize the paradoxes of felt or forced connections as in a first kiss from a troublesome married cousin that burns the narrator’s cheek like a brand. Allegiance and Betrayal sears the reader with recognition."
—Allen Wier, author of the award-winning novel Tehano
"Makuck returns to one of the most fertile wellsprings of literature—the family. With grace and wit, he dramatizes family matters in post-World War II America, drawing attention to why families matter and what is the matter with so many of them. . . . As he points to the tragic and comic ways family members exacerbate and resolve their differences, he repeatedly surprises us with the mysterious ways people act. These stories are destined to beguile."
—Henry Hart, author of James Dickey: The World as a Lie
The stories in Allegiance and Betrayal are set in cars, on top of a water tower, in a bar, on a fishing boat, at a family farm, and at a swimming pool. Each story carries an aura of the mystery surrounding family relations, the enigma of love, the gaping rift between generations, the give-and- take between husbands and wives, and the inevitability of loss. The book begins with a suite of three stories about Tim Budney. In the first, he reluctantly leaves home and his beloved hot rod Ford to attend a small Catholic college; in the second, he experiences a conflict of allegiances—loyalty to a friend versus lying to his teacher and priest; in the third, he imagines that his uncle, a pool hustler, is in danger and returns to the uncle’s tavern where he witnesses something unforgettable. In other stories, a Yankee house painter trying to sell his car encounters a tricky, Bible-quoting southerner; a married couple hurtfully moves away from their friends of twenty years without saying goodbye or leaving an address; a near fatal scuba dive revives a friendship of many years; a family reunion turns ugly on the subject of religion; and a high school French teacher arranges an offshore fishing trip to settle a score with the football coach.
With deft prose and a generous spirit, Makuck explores the deep but subtle range of human emotion. Humorous and tender, these stories offer rich portraits of individuals struggling to overcome failed dreams and searching for an answer to the question of what truly matters.
Peter Makuck is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University. He is the author of Long Lens: New and Selected Poems and two collections of short stories, Breaking and Entering and Costly Habits. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in the Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Poetry, Sewanee Review, the Nation, and Gettysburg Review.