Title: Red Road Redemption: Country Tales from the Heart of Wisconsin
Author: PJA Fullerton
Genre: Collection of Short Stories
Publisher: WWA Press
Reviewed by: Victoria Lynn Smith
Review of Red Road Redemption: Country Tales from the Heart of Wisconsin
Red Road Redemption is a collection of short stories written by PJA Fullerton. Many of her stories, set in rural Wisconsin, read as reminiscences with a narrator looking back upon an important moment in a character’s life. “A Walk in the Snow” is one of those stories where an outwardly normal event shifts into an ordeal that has a life changing implication for the character.
Fullerton’s stories, written from the first- and third-person point of view, explore themes of aging, loss, loneliness, perseverance, love, and friendship. Many of her stories, like “Going to Join Dickens” and “And the Winner Is,” portray the bond that grows between a person and their animal as they work together to achieve a common goal. Other stories, such as “Tomo-Dog” and “The Librarian and the Bikers,” focus on friendships that unite people who wouldn’t seem to have anything in common. Readers will feel the warmth of those bonds.
Fullerton was raised in rural Wisconsin and her knowledge about country life shines through as she describes the countryside, the farm animals, and the characters who inhabit her stories. In her story “Bill, Bob, and Lars,” Fullerton describes the Belgian horses featured in the story in a manner that captures their physical and spiritual beings: “Both yearlings were well conformed with broad chests, tremendous heart girths, strong-short backs, rounded hindquarters, and sturdy straight legs with great bone. They were a deep golden color with shimmering platinum manes and tails shot with golden hairs that sparkled.” In Fullerton’s prose Bill and Bob, two magnificent Belgian horses and the main characters in the story, come to life.
As readers peruse the stories in Red Road Redemption, they are sure to connect with the characters and animals, sparking their own chance to reconnect with important people, animals, and moments from their own lives.
Reviewer Victoria Lynn Smith writes short stories and essays. In 2022, her short story "Maginot Line," won second place in the Hal Prize Contest for fiction. She has been published by Brevity Blog, Wisconsin Public Radio, Hive Literary Journal, Persimmon Tree, Jenny, 45th Parallel, Mason Street Review, and Rathalla Review. In 2022, she earned an honorable mention for nonfiction in the Jade Ring writing contest. She's working on a collection of short stories, and she enjoys writing her blog at Writing Near the Lake. She recently attended her first writer’s residency at Write On, Door County. She is a member of Wisconsin Writers Association, Lake Superior Writers, Red Oak Writing, Write On, Door County, and Writers Alliance of Gainesville.