Probing men's insecurities with a vengeance, a debut collection of nine stories from Shulman gives a tightly focused but often repetitive view of macho misfiring and emotional turbulence. The title story displays most of the themes here: A young man is taken by his girlfriend to her family's house in Montauk for the weekend, where he first clashes with her domineering father, then reaches an understanding with him, and, after a night spat leaves him naked on the beach while his lover does laps in the ocean, is menaced by a pair of muscle men who disparage his manhood before going away, leaving hime to have frenzied sex in the sand. Father- son conflict, performance issues, and the thrill of the great outdoors add further heat elsewhere. In ``Ghosts,'' a boy sees his overbearing father badger the first-rate mechanic in Dad's filling station into quitting; years later, by this time a drop-out and potential draftee suffering the same sort of abuse, he takes off from home with Dad's one treasure, the classic '50s Buick in which he was conceived. ``Seduction'' follows a pair of husbands as they spend a weekend camping in the Adirondacks, where they become transformed from close friends into lovers, a transition that one of them is to unable to accept. In ``The Deer,'' a youth and his jobless father go hunting the morning after the boy has watched Dad abuse Mom; he first hides from his father in the woods, then refuses to help carry Dad's deer home. When they finally reach home, Mom rejects it as a peace offering; Dad buries it in the front yard. Severely limited in range, but these tales of bleak, misshapen lives do offer a unified worldview—one more than a little familiar to anyone growing up male in America.
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