OUR SECRET'S OUT by Darrell Spencer


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 Spencer (A Woman Packing a Pistol, 1987--not reviewed) cops a high-flying attitude in the 12 stories collected here--all about various odd ducks or blue-collar types, most of whom live in Las Vegas, Utah, and Nevada. In ``Song and Dance,'' a young golfer hits balls ``into the mesquite and sagebrush'' but dreams of turning pro with the financial help of rich Uncle Beaner; Beaner considers the pro circuit a ``floor show,'' however, and instead gets the narrator a job at Juvenile Hall. Spencer's riffs are jazzy all the way through, but, unfortunately, the voice never deepens. The same is true for many pieces here--``Let Me Tell You What Ward DiPino Tells Me at Work,'' for example, is told by a convenience-store clerk who has to deal with the crazy customer of the title and with a near- lunatic girlfriend: ``DiPino's footwork is skip-rope rococo.'' The author braids alliteration and syntax to keep our attention, but the smart-alecky voice wears thin finally--as in ``Halloween,'' a present-tense tale in which a man (``I may be losing it. I may be nuts'') greets trick-or-treaters in his underwear and reaches a violent epiphany in a style that feels mannered. Other stories (``Nothing Sad, Once You Look at It,'' ``As Long as Lust Is Short'') explore blue-collar territory, though again the voice after a certain point becomes cloying. Spencer's a talented writer who can snap his fingers and go, but here there are too many forced epiphanies--as though stories try to claim territory that's been looked at and passed over but not explored.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8262-0927-0
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Univ. of Missouri
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993