"How could she possibly relay what thousands of square miles are like to callers who think San Francisco is Northern California?" That's the question fictional real estate agent Ingrid Fromm asks herself about the glory of Siskiyou County in the short story collection that depicts her encounters with interesting (read: quirky) clients.
The county, Fromm muses, is "the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.... You can get lost here, stake out your territory, and retreat to a lifestyle reminiscent of rugged individualism and grit...." And there are pretty good views of Mt. Shasta.
Author Ursula Bendix, Peace Corps volunteer and Spanish teacher, was born in Germany in 1945 and with her family immigrated to Oregon when she was ten. Now the owner/broker of Bendix Real Estate in Yreka, she has crafted a series of deceptively simple stories about her counterpart Fromm (also in real estate in Yreka).
"Land - Home - Mountain View: Stories From The Siskiyous" ($13.95 in paperback from Memoir Books, an imprint of Chico's Heidelberg Graphics; also for Amazon Kindle) presents ten vignettes, tales of clients narrated from Fromm's point of view, that in quiet ways begin to expose the soul of a woman in her sixties, divorced after thirty-four years of marriage, with a son and daughter, living a "conventional" life.
Fromm's work makes her almost a voyeur into the lives of her clients. "Voyeurism, she knew, was a means by which she tried to discover and comprehend the nature of intimacy. She was sure that once she understood this feeling, she would understand the essence of living.... Selling real estate gave her the opportunity to meet all types of personalities and, for a short while, become intensely involved in their lives."
Zola Poe wants to build a "spiritual and holistic retreat" near the town of Hilt. A couple is interested in a strange house with a trapdoor in Dunsmuir. Foul-smelling Patrick meets a sad end. Ingrid imagines a fling with her client, Russian Boris Volkov. ("We're all in our sixties after all--what difference did it make?")
A conventional life? Perhaps--but one that will draw readers into its gentle passion.