This first collection of stories, set mostly in New York and Paris, takes much of its inspiration from the more experimental wing of American fiction, but its most affecting moments are those with more ordinary characters and situations. Skill, empathy and wit exist here; still, when the varied stories are added up, the arty writer tends to win out over her characters, stunting them in favor of fictional devices and an emphasis on mysticism, S&M and other dark, fashionable fascinations. In the relatively homespun ""Nuit Blanche,"" a lonely American woman ventures more deeply than she had planned into the Paris nightclub world. Set in a Detroit suburb, ""A Murder History"" creates an eerie effect as two strangers, a man and a woman, discover they shared a grade-school teacher who never forgot that a student grew up to be a murderer: unbeknowst to the woman it's this man. And two stories set in staid law firms work well, going against the book's generally more exotic grain. But the more formally experimental stories, which make up much of the rest of the book, evoke little real feeling--the fractured narratives; the shock effects; the wise, ironic comments on modern life; all wear thin without the backing of strong characters or ideas. All in all, a mixed bag by an author whose preoccupations with fiction's techniques can sometimes dry up our interest in her subject matter.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1986
Page Count: -
Publisher: Fiction Collective--dist. by Sun & Moon