THE LAW OF AVERAGES by Frederick Barthelme

THE LAW OF AVERAGES

New and Selected Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Some contemporary short-story writers create a sense of ennui by dispensing with plot; generous Barthelme often spins out more events in an opening paragraph than you’d expect from a whole story, then goes right on spinning till his people are tangled in a world so thick with incident that their lives seem spun even more hauntingly out of control. In the 6 new stories among the 29 collected here, a father worried about his teenaged daughter looks up from charting his favorite stock on the computer when he hears a car hit a tree in his front yard; romance blooms with suspicious ease between a history teacher and the woman he meets at a car wash; a teenager’s parents recover from their wounding by convenience-store robbers, but then Mama shoots Daddy for playing around with Riva Jay. And that’s just for starters.

As in the previous collections that this retrospective excerpts, Moon Deluxe (1983) and Chroma (1987), happenstance pulls the characters so far outside their orbits that they look back on their lives as if from Mars and feel the shivery brush of secular grace only a certified post-modernist like Barthelme can provide.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-58243-115-9
Page count: 374pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000




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