THE ROAD TO DALTON
by Shannon Bowring
Europa Editions. 250 pages, $18.
DALTON is a fictional small town in northern Maine, but it’s clear that Shannon Bowring knows the territory firsthand. The place itself might be considered a character, perhaps the main character, because of how it shapes and restricts the people who live there. Half the town works at the lumber mill, the one industry that keeps the area going. Except for the mill owner’s family, everyone barely gets by with their job at the mill or as a waitress, a cop, a librarian, or a farmer. People occasionally pay for services with odd jobs or food they’ve grown or fished. The town is remote and insular—one of those places where everyone knows everyone else’s business.
Set in 1990, each chapter is narrated by a different character, and gradually it becomes clear that this device is creating a kind of community within the larger town, with no one person at the center of the story.