Books by Darrell Spencer

OUR SECRET'S OUT by Darrell Spencer
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

Spencer (A Woman Packing a Pistol, 1987—not reviewed) cops a high-flying attitude in the 12 stories collected here—all about various odd ducks or blue-collar types, most of whom live in Las Vegas, Utah, and Nevada. In ``Song and Dance,'' a young golfer hits balls ``into the mesquite and sagebrush'' but dreams of turning pro with the financial help of rich Uncle Beaner; Beaner considers the pro circuit a ``floor show,'' however, and instead gets the narrator a job at Juvenile Hall. Spencer's riffs are jazzy all the way through, but, unfortunately, the voice never deepens. The same is true for many pieces here—``Let Me Tell You What Ward DiPino Tells Me at Work,'' for example, is told by a convenience-store clerk who has to deal with the crazy customer of the title and with a near- lunatic girlfriend: ``DiPino's footwork is skip-rope rococo.'' The author braids alliteration and syntax to keep our attention, but the smart-alecky voice wears thin finally—as in ``Halloween,'' a present-tense tale in which a man (``I may be losing it. I may be nuts'') greets trick-or-treaters in his underwear and reaches a violent epiphany in a style that feels mannered. Other stories (``Nothing Sad, Once You Look at It,'' ``As Long as Lust Is Short'') explore blue-collar territory, though again the voice after a certain point becomes cloying. Spencer's a talented writer who can snap his fingers and go, but here there are too many forced epiphanies—as though stories try to claim territory that's been looked at and passed over but not explored. Read full book review >