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Power Lines

 Bradley’s first book, a story collection titled
Power Lines
, ( University of Arkansas Press, 1986) came out to rave reviews including one in the New York Times Book Review which also listed the collection as a Notable Book. Author John Williams comments on the collection saying:

“Like Chekov, Bradley depends on atmosphere and character and tone, and the relationship among those, rather than plot, to accomplish her aims. This is a dangerous procedure in which Bradley succeeds brilliantly.”

The New York Times comments:
“ . . . . Her characters come blazing to life at the most unexpected moments, and her voice is at once sympathetic and utterly sentimental. The best stories in Power Lines are loaded with terror, wonder and life—and with promise for Jane Bradley’s future.”

 

 

Marcia Tager ~ Tenafly, N.J.
Library Journal/September 15, 1989

"The stories in Bradley's first collection are about people with very little to lose, who lost the little the do have and somehow manage to survive. In "Misteltoe," a woman married to the wrong man, and leading a life of quiet desperation, is kept alive by the powerful memory of the married man she once loved deeply. "What Happened to Wendell?" is about the failure of love to keep a Vietnam veteran from committing suicide. In "Noises," a mother makes a valiant but vain attempt to disentangle her daughter from her violent husband. And the title story is a contemporary ghost story about the lines that connect one generation to another. Bradly is not maudlin; her insight into the characters and her honest affection for them prevent it. Ultimately, these strong stories are about survival, not despair."

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Publishers Weekly
July 28, 1989

"The men and women in this debut collection respond to loss with extreme, destructive behavior. Wives and children are abused; teens get pregnant; alcoholics abound. Victories over adversity are hard won and small, while financial instability is insurmountable. Bradley romanticizes privation, but frequently electrifies the bleak worlds of her characters with specific disturbances. In "Across the Road," for example, two neighbors grudginly confront their hatred for each other after iron-willed, elderly Hallie faints in her garden and 39-year-old divorcee Stacey Lee rushes instinctively to her aid. "I never asked you for help," says Hallie; "I never meant to give none...You're lucky I didn't have time to think," Stacey Lee answers. But their defenses falter when a cat who has strayed into Hallie's house kills and eats her newborn kittens. In less effective pieces, violence seems global and the personalities of the embattled protagonists never clearly emerge. Despite unevenness and exaggerated drama, Bradley's clean, declarative prose yileds stirring moments." (Sept.)

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Simone Poirier-Bures

 

"The eleven stories in this debut collection explore the power lines in individual lives and in male-female relationships. The main characters struggle to cope with death, violence, absence; somehow they find ways to empower themselves, to find sliver of grace.

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Mark Childress

"The surface of the stories in “Power Lines,” Jane Bradley’s first collection of stories, is calm. Her lyrical descriptions cast a cool, measured spell over the rural Southern landscapes through which her characters move. But, violence is everywhere in their lives – a boy slaps his sister, a cat kills her kittens, a man’s fist crashes into a woman’s face, a Vietnam Veteran takes a room at the Holiday Inn and blows his brains out.
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Christopher Buckley
~ Creative writing teacher and author
Jane Bradley is an accomplished playwright, one who has won awards, had plays produced, and so it is no surprise that one of the strengths of these stories is their strong and immediate sense of drama, though the plots and action always involve orindary lives and ordinary people. What makes Bradley an exceptional writer and the stories truly first rate
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