Movies isn't a bad title for Dixon's short fiction, suggesting the jumpiness, the flat splicings, the sensation of...

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MOVIES: Seventeen Stories

Movies isn't a bad title for Dixon's short fiction, suggesting the jumpiness, the flat splicings, the sensation of unsprocketed events speeding-up beyond expectation. But even better might have been Escalations--because that's what Dixon's short work excels in: a geometric intensification of voice and consequences that feeds itself toward increasingly dizzying levels. Four stories here show that intensification process most brilliantly: ""The Watch,"" in which a street scene is complicated past resolution, human nature becoming rawer by the second; ""Layaways,"" about a violent hold-up at a clothing store, the urban horror mounting; ""Cy""--a Job-like, disfigured man who is finally pushed out of the world altogether; and, best of all, ""The Shirt""--in which an object (a shirt) becomes a family obsession, a fetish. In these, Dixon's wizardly pleating of low-rent realities is an impressive, original achievement: the stories are nightmarish because of their warped, stretched dailyness, plausibility pushed just over its limit into fright. But, though always technically interesting (Dixon sometimes delivers prose at Paganini-like speeds), most of the other entries in this collection seem slight: some are mannered, over-styled slices of domestic irritation; some merely offer variations on a familiar aesthetic message--the way everyone ceaselessly, uncontrollably adjusts, rewrites everyday stories. And such throw-away pyrotechnics pale by comparison with those four examples of Dixon at his intense best--making this an uneven collection, the uninspired outweighing the distinguished.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: North Point

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983