A novella and four stories that earned newcomer Grossinger the 15th annual Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. While not of the ``Cancer in Connecticut'' school of new fiction, Grossinger's besieged characters succumb with enough regularity to form their own subgenre—the ``Bright's Disease in the Bronx'' school, perhaps—and to keep the proceedings mostly funereal throughout. In ``Dinosaurs,'' a midwestern academic reminisces about his grandfather Zolly, who has just passed on. ``Leisure World'' is a portrait of the spites and affections of elderly retirees living out their last days in Florida, whereas ``Hearts and Minds'' describes the disintegration of a Vietnam vet from the perspective of his teenaged son. ``Home Burial'' focuses on madness rather than death, offering a boy's account of his POW father who nearly died in Korea and has never really recovered. Like most of the book, ``Home Burial'' is marred by Grossinger's unwillingness to let the plot speak for itself, especially in its more melancholy moments—``He held me in his sad gaze for more than a minute, and the feel of his dog tags against my face and chest when I hugged him has remained with me for all these years''—and its sentimentality becomes cloying very quickly. The most ambitious work in the collection, the title novella, is more nuanced. It describes a Jewish boy's changing sense of identity and history as a result of his contact with a family of Holocaust survivors who move into his hometown in the late 1940s. Relying on the perspective of the survivors themselves, as well as on the narrator who observes them, the story has a depth and subtlety that the others lack. Painfully sincere: Grossinger gives the game away time and again by showing his hand—which isn't bad—too soon.
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