Will You Hold Me? ($13.95 paperback original; Apr. 18, 1997; 182 pp.; 1-899344-11-X): A first collection of ten imaginatively conceived and almost uniformly somber stories about men unable to connect with the women they love or think they ought to love. Images of disease, disfigurement, and collapse predominate, as does a tone of exhausted resignation that makes it difficult to care about the fates of these characters. Still, a saving cynical wit enlivens such absorbing tales as ``Covering Up'' (a wry portrayal of male sexual confusion) and ``Because of Dust'' (in which a hopeful first date is followed by sudden death and unforeseen emotional involvement). A frustratingly uneven, though generally promising, debut.
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