ALL AROUND ATLANTIS by Deborah Eisenberg


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 An impressive gathering of seven painstakingly wrought, ambitious stories by the critically acclaimed author of the collections Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986) and Under the 82nd Airborne (1992). Eisenberg's stories typically explore unusually complex relationships among strongly realized characters who are often both inexorably drawn to--and hopelessly wrong for--one another. She has a flair for developing an initially simple story in unexpected directions, and something of (her exemplar?) Katherine Anne Porter's ability to bring a novel-like depth to the confines of her stories. One or two gathered here misfire--notably ``Rosie Gets a Soul,'' a sprawling tale about a screwed-up female painter's experiences with peers, lovers, art, and drugs: Eisenberg's heart doesn't seem to be in it. But there are several stunners, including the title story's ``imaginary conversation,'' which its unfulfilled middle-aged protagonist holds with the charismatic older man who had tutored her and, it appears, never noticed her; and ``The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor,'' which traces with both irony and empathy its boarding-school protagonist's initiation into the facts of mortality, as well as of adult hypocrisy and folly. Another exploration of childhood, ``Mermaids,'' limns the fractious and contentious nature of an outwardly contented family through the eyes of its young daughter's schoolmate, who accompanies them on an eye-opening trip to New York City. And in the best of several stories set in, and redolent of, Mexico, the superb ``Someone to Talk To,'' Eisenberg reveals the rude political awakening of a pampered concert pianist in a series of ingeniously unfolding levels of emotion and meaning. Exceptional work from one of the contemporary masters.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-374-27087-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997


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