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BONE BY BONE by Gary Krist


by Gary Krist

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-15-182064-3
Publisher: Harcourt

 This second collection by the author of The Garden State (1988) gathers 13 slick but formulaic stories, half of which have appeared in small magazines. Krist profiles a number of suburban misfits in these fictions, three of which chronicle a teenaged boy's view of his parents' crumbling marriage. His mother suffers a miscarriage (``Ghost Story''); grows increasingly erratic until she finds fulfilling work in a zoo (``Giant Step''); and flirts with a handsome college boy while summering without dad on the Jersey shore (``Numbers''). More flighty women people stories about an indexer separated from her philandering husband (the title story); a lesbian college administrator who can't adjust to separation from her lover (``Safe Houses''); and a mysterious woman named Alice who appears from nowhere in a man's life and disappears just as mysteriously (``Ever Alice''). Men fare no better in Krist's tales of failed relationships--certainly not the young man leaving a girlfriend who suffers from MS in ``Baggage,'' nor the divorced dad whose daughter doesn't want to see him in ``Eclipse.'' The real oddballs here provide some comic relief: there's the young embalmer, the son of a former call girl, who wants to leave Westchester County for the freedom of Alaska (``Hungry''); the elderly, left-wing homosexual photographer who refuses to acknowledge his diminished capacities even to his sympathetic bisexual nephew (``Uncle Issac''); and the truly oafish young man who lives with his widowed mother in Brooklyn, and who's flabbergasted by her pregnancy and impending marriage (``Unique Szechuan II''). No story stands out in this calculated collection of contemporary goofiness. Sharp dialogue and an economic style can't compensate for utter predictability.