by Ethan--Ed. Canin ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 1996
It may seem misanthropic to criticize a collection in which all 18 stories were donated to benefit Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger group. But charity shouldn't be a cover for bad writing, and this hodgepodge has more than its share of sloppy work. The tales reflect a common intent, the exploration of domestic life in all its messiness, returning again and again to the effort to define the meaning of ""home."" Melanie Rae Thon's ""The Snow Thief"" focuses on an unhappy, childless woman, keeping a deathwatch for her father and looking back over her life; Po Bronson's ""The Impossible to Kill Me Game"" explores a fatherless young boy's fear of abandonment surfacing as his mother takes up with a new man. In Gary Krist's facile ""Sleep,"" an anxious broker in international finance chooses family over the incessant late-night calls from London. And in Louis B. Jones's clever ""Stone,"" a married man's focus on passing a kidney stone allows him to ignore everything else in his life crumbling around him. Judith Freeman revisits the muted world of her Mormon parents in ""Ofelia Rodriguez,"" the story of their unexpected daughter-in-law and grandchild. There are singularly amateurish stories by the poet Alice Fulton and newcomer Heidi Julavits: The first is a clumsy tale of Irish-Catholic spinster aunts, the second a confusing attempt at a cinematic-style chronicle about a distracted, impotent anthropologist, his suicidal wife, and the crew that chooses to film her death rather than save her. Robert Phillips's ""News About People You Know,"" tracing the inadvertent consequences of a social column in a small-town newspaper, stands out for its simple narrative virtues. Despite the claim that this is a collection of previously unpublished stories, at least two pieces (Frederick Barthelme's ""Dallas"" and Louis B. Jones's ""The Stone"") have appeared, in different versions, in print before. The consolation for this decidedly mixed collection: Your money goes to a good cause.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1996
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Harvest/Harcourt Brace
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996
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