Stormy Weather & Other Stories is probably as close as Lisa Alther will ever come to writing an autobiography. These stories, written over the course of her career, are set in the three places that have meant the most to her. The first five stories reflect Alther s early years growing up in the Southern mountains close to nature, using animal imagery to make sense of her world. Four stories are set in Vermont in the milieu that shaped her as a young adult. Marinated in the politics of the 1970s the Back-to-the-Land days of hippies, communes, and the Women s Movement these stories portray the optimistic explorations of alternative models for parenthood, relationships, and sexuality that flourished during those years.
The final three stories are set in New York City, where her characters, unmoored by nature or by tight-knit communities of like-minded friends, search for meaning within the privacy of their own souls. All the stories are loosely linked, with a minor character in one sometimes emerging to play a major role in another. Most of these stories were published in journals or anthologies, though three are previously unpublished. Birdman and the Dancer, the novella that closes the volume, has been published in Dutch, Danish, and German, but is appearing here in English for the first time. Inspired by a series of monotypes by the French artist, Francoise Gilot, it was written while many Americans were mesmerized by the television coverage of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It embodies Alther s metaphoric response to the Gulf War, and to violence in general.