By Louise Erdrich
512 pages; HarperCollins
In her preface to The Red Convertible—three decades' worth of short fiction—Louise Erdrich tells how stories she thinks she finished are often not finished with her; how they "gather force and weight and complexity," spinning off to become novels. Readers of Erdrich's longer fiction will recognize the junction of small-town spite and ancient animosity in "Fleur," the pent-up energy, "more alive than a set of human bones," in "The Painted Drum." Yet these tales, like the shining car in the title story, have a velocity all their own.