"Wearing blue jeans meant I was a local. The gray in my hair meant I'd been away. Word of my impending return spread throughout the county. Some stories would have me moving in with my folks because one of them was very sick. Another had me purchasing my old grade school and converting it into an art colony. I was living in a houseboat on Cave Run Lake. I had AIDS and came home to die. My wife left me and I was back to hunt another. One story said it wasn't Chris Offutt but his younger brother who was investing in the new mall. When the truth finally outed, everyone knew I had bought the old Jackson place, which meant I must be doing pretty well for myself because they were asking a pretty penny for it. On top of that, somebody else said I was teaching at the college, but no one believed the college would ever allow that."
In his fortieth year, Chris Offutt returns to teach at his alma mater, Morehead State University, the only four-year school in the Kentucky hills. With the humblest of intentions, he expects to give back to his community, hoping to become, quietly, a hero of sorts. Yet present-day reality collides painfully with memory, leaving Offutt in the midst of an adventure he never imagined: searching for a home that no longer exists.
During that same year, Offutt records the story of his parents-in-law, Arthur and Irene, Holocaust survivors who emigrated to New York from Poland in 1946. Their moving chronicle of exile and war entwines with Offutt's attempt to find a sense of safety and home. But it is Arthur who sagely states that "home is illusory" and there are "no heroes" in life.
"The New Yorker" crowned Chris Offutt's 1993 memoir, "The Same RiverTwice," the "memoir of the decade." "No Heroes" is a sure contender to reclaim that honor, lifting the tale of one man's homecoming to universal significance.