The opening line of “The Pines,” the final selection in Don Marshall’s anthology of short stories called The Rummage Sale, begins with this question: “Are you really going to let him take you back to Utah?” The question is asked of Lida Burrows, whose second husband, Verdell, wants her to return with him to Utah, where they both grew up. But in a larger sense, the question applies to every reader of The Rummage Sale, and the answer for most readers—certainly the answer for this reader—will be, Yes, I’m going to let him take me back to Utah.
For this is, in fact, what The Rummage Sale is all about. When Verdell Porter, in “The Pines,” proposes to Lida, he tells her he had turned his back on his heritage long enough. Now he wants to go back to the family homestead and “pick up the neglected pieces of the past.” In this book, Marshall has embraced the Utah subculture as one returning to the family homestead. He has picked up the neglected pieces of the past in order to show us their impact on the present. He has taken us—including those reared far from the Rocky Mountains but now, by choice or marriage, by faith or fate, part of the culture—back to Utah in a way no other Mormon writer has yet done. It is a serious and worthwhile undertaking, and we must not let the delightful humor that shines throughout the pages mislead us as to the basic importance of the book. Rummage sales occasionally produce rare treasures, especially for those willing to look patiently and carefully at the items displayed.