Nine rather commonplace tales, most of them previously published in literary magazines, try on a couple of different voices...

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CHEATERS and Other Stories

Nine rather commonplace tales, most of them previously published in literary magazines, try on a couple of different voices but share a focus on loyalty, sexual and otherwise, and adultery. Albarelli's male narrators can't control their own animal urges; little else seems to explain their need to be unfaithful. A few of these lackluster pieces even take place in that hotbed of infidelity, the college campus. ""Infatuated"" pokes fun at its narrator, a visiting professor who develops a mild obsession with one of his sexy students at an all-girls' college in Virginia--she turns him down before he has a chance to betray his longtime lover back in New York. Nonsexual loyalty is at the center of stories about fraternal twins, one of whom embraces Orthodox Judaism; and of ""Honeymoon,"" in which a young IRA member must choose between his new bride and his devotion to the cause. The narrator of ""Winterlude"" is the only male in this bunch who endures a wife's betrayal, a dramatic bit of cuckoldry that sends him spiralling downward. The other cheaters are treated somewhat more heavy-handedly. In the dull ""Passenger,"" a young ferry captain, married in his teens, takes up with an older woman, a relationship that promises only uncertainty. The philanderer in the title story, a local private investigator who's betrayed his wife in the past, works a case following a man's wife who turns out to be cheating on him with the p.i.'s former girlfriend. In ""Grace,"" the husband must cope with the fact that his wife was raped while he was out playing around. And in the best piece, ""Flame,"" a young rocker who lives in the shadow of his older brother is happy to catch him on the couch with a woman, thereby betraying a higher loyalty, his Roman Catholic priesthood. Religion and ethnicity give some dimension to otherwise boilerplate narratives--a competent but unexciting debut.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996