From the author of the National Book Award-winning Arctic Dreams comes a masterful work of fiction, a collection of stories that balances the marvelous and the real, intellect and heart, with extraordinary grace.Set variously in Peru, Chine, the Caribbean, California, and the American West, here are tales of men and women exploring the landscapes of their own innocence and desire; confronting violence, estrangement, and the disillusionment of war; or encountering the hope, fierce integrity, defiance, and wisdom of others. A packet of recently discovered seventeenth-century Peruvian love letters presents a twentieth-century man with the paralyzing choice of either protecting or exposing their stunning secret. A man's encounter with a young deaf girl ("eerie in her stillness and independence") rearranges his notions of pity. When some young boys on the lookout for easy money get caught with a truckload of stolen horses, their fates raise questions of justice and redemption. For a group of convicts, a gathering of birds in the prison yard may be the key to transcendence, both figurative and literal. Here are saints who shouldn't touch, but do; sinners who insist on the life of the spirit; a postcard paradise that turns into a nightmare.With "Light Action in the Caribbean," Barry Lopez, whose fiction has been hailed as "haunting... mysterious" (Time) and "superb...exquisitely wrought" (SF Chronicle), carries his central concerns -- place, compassion, memory, the quest of the traveler -- to exciting new frontiers, both geographic and emotional.