by David Borofka ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 11, 1996
A thematically unified and smartly arranged debut of 14 stories--one of those rare collections in which the sum is greater than its parts. Borofka's mostly male protagonists approach midlife with a sense of having failed--not just at their professions, or as husbands and fathers, but as decent men. Sex plays no little part in their guilt: The narrator of the fine title piece, a 38-year-old ""man without a conscience of his own,"" realizes that, even though he's survived a plane crash, it does not absolve him of his sins, especially his recent adultery. When a minister's pass at his secretary is rejected, he accepts an unrelated staph infection as divine punishment (""The Whole Lump""). In ""Prologue,"" an unfaithful husband, a failed writer turned insurance salesman, finally confesses to his angry wife. Some of Borofka's stories document scenes from the lives of men struggling to understand the opposite sex: In ""Reflected Music,"" a college student begins to understand ""the complications of intimacy""; in ""The Summers of My Sex,"" the narrator records scenes (unsexy ones) from his erotic development, many from summers spent with his mother's all-female family; and in ""Sisters,"" a narrator reflects on the women in his life: his wife and three daughters, the aunt who raised him, and the reckless mother who abandoned him. Borofka's moral vision includes matters of faith as well: Disillusioned ministers turn up in a number of stories. In ""The Girl on the Highway,"" a crisis of faith results from a young pastor's freak accident; in ""Epilogue,"" an Episcopal priest confesses his infidelity to his pragmatic brother. A typical liberal-secular couple in ""The Children's Crusade"" are bewildered by their daughter's religiosity after she's enrolled in a parochial school--a saintliness that's disrupted by her first period. Borofka steers artfully and intelligently through a variety of collisions of faith and sex, creating a memorable work and an exceptional debut.
Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1996
Page Count: 240
Publisher: Univ. of Iowa
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996
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