Email this review


 Moving easily between blue-collar types and Social Register summer people, New Age dancers and Old World immigrants, underground poets and Elvis freaks, newcomer Davis (coeditor with Michael C. White, of the American Fiction series) demonstrates an impressive range in this debut collection of 12 stories. The pieces fall roughly into two groups: Those dealing with problem relationships between spouses or lovers, and those in which characters work to recover the past. The relationship stories capture the edgy back-and-forth of couples in crisis, whether Bruce and Lydia in ``Incoming Rounds,'' Hugh and Deb in ``Raccoons,'' or Annie and Doug in ``Sidewalks White Like Bones,'' though their obsessions (Bruce's Vietnam thing, Annie's immersion in New Age culture) sometimes extrude awkwardly. Where Davis comes into his own is with his stories of death, disappearance and loss; here the survivors try to reconnect with the past. In the moving ``AWOL,'' Leon, a Chicago roofer, struggling to make sense of his son's desertion in the Philippines, courageously keeps on keeping on; Sidney, in ``Waiting for Ruth,'' stubbornly maintains his vigil for his drowned lover; teenage Diane, racked with pain over the death of big sister Melinda, escapes into fantasy in ``Growing Wings.'' Those are losing battles; the victories belong to the narrator of ``Shooting the Moon,'' who restores his dead grandfather, a feisty nonconformist, to the family pantheon (a tender portrait, clear as a bell), and the mother in ``Ramparts Street'' (the collection's standout), who celebrates, at her daughter's behest, the rout of two federal agents by her Italian immigrant parents in New Orleans in 1942. Here past and present are seamlessly conflated in a triumph of technique and sensibility. Davis's sure touch with parents and children reflects his greatest strength--an acute sense of what keeps us all afloat in the sea of time.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-89823-142-6
Page count: 113pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993