YOU NEVER BELIEVE ME And Other Stories by Davis Grubb


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This posthumous collection of 18 stories (Grubb died in 1980 after some ten novels, including The Night of the Hunter and Ancient Lights), many set in West Virginia, often settles for an amusing sketch instead of a fully-developed tale, but Grubb has also managed to fashion four or five stories that will last. Each piece begins with an ironic or philosophical tidbit from Grubb's notebooks, which seldom intrude and sometimes illuminate. ""The Stainless Steel Savior"" (tidbit: ""Walking on the street in Manhattan--a veritable merde gras!"") is a vivid satire about a self-invented Rambo who rescues young runaways in Manhattan and kills their would-be pimps. When a woman objects, too obsessed with the payoffs of streetwalking to see him as a savior, he kills her, too. ""Every Road I Walked Along"" concerns a man--an ""idealist about women""--who owns a restaurant kept as a shrine to a little-known jazz singer. When, years later, the singer stumbles upon the restaurant, its walls covered with her photographs, the owner mistakes her for her mother. ""Tally Vengeance,"" the most sustained narrative, is told by a barber in Glory who's enthralled by a ravishing Serbian woman. When she loses her husband and gets squeezed by the locals, she turns to prostitution and an exacting revenge--which brings the town's menfolk to their knees while allowing her to keep her dignity intact. ""Magenta Blue,"" about a pregnant hill-country girl in 1934, is very touching until it turns into a fairy tale--the new baby's father shows up to marry her, give up bootlegging, and buy her a Maytag. Many of the other pieces, however, are thin anecdotes or tepid gags stretched into stories. A mixed assemblage--but, still, Gmbb's short fiction is worth putting between covers for the sake of the collection's gems.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's