The first story here, about a young punk hustler--""How Mickey Made It""--has some of the onyx-outlaw quality of Phillips'...

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FAST LANES: Stories

The first story here, about a young punk hustler--""How Mickey Made It""--has some of the onyx-outlaw quality of Phillips' for-effect debut collection, Black Tickets (1979); and two longer pieces--""Bess"" and ""Blue Moon""--could be discarded chapters from Phillips' novel Machine Dreams (1984) and its conventional, preppy, though at times moving, purview of the family-as-universe. The rest--as Phillips tests new boundaries--is more interesting. A writer good at retrospect, a summarizer of lost times bounding over years and lives, she does best of all with ""Rayme"": a frighteningly deranged girl who finds sanctuary (up to a point) in a 70's commune. ""Something That Happened"" puts the narrative spotlight on a divorced mother of young adult children who's being pressured to join into a life style she's ambivalent about having--any life style--and there's a power of sympathy through distance to it that's effective. But when Phillips writes a story trying for the illusion of events unfolding in the now, she flounders. The hitchhiking girl and shadowy male companion of the title story are pushed to the limits of preposterousness by Bogart-movie dialogue like: ""'Don't call me sweetheart, and I didn't say they weren't perceptive or frustrated. I said their isolation was real, not an illusion. They stayed in one place and sank with whatever they had. But us--look at us. Roads. Sensation, floating, maps into more of the same. It's a blur, a pattern, a view from an airplane.'"" Overall, then: a few good stories, but otherwise unfocused, often heavy-footed work.

Pub Date: April 21, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987