THE GLASS HOUSE by Laura Furman


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Something like Ann Beattie without the satiric snap, Furman's short fiction (a novella and five stories) is chiefly made of slow compoundings of sad everyday particulars: some readers will find this affecting, perhaps, but most will see it as a plague of hesitations, with dailyness passed off as significance. Little happens in these stories, that's for sure. And Furman works in a tuneless style that plays with heartsore-ness in a mostly anesthetic key. (""If Anton was having an affair in Chicago, if we had a child, if I never saw Gerda again, it wouldn't make any difference"". . . ""On the road no one knows her, and on the road, she owned nothing."") A young woman tries to sell her dead father's big old car. A young couple edgily married are victims of a vandal while staying in a friend's London apartment. And the inside/outside weltschmertz--much emphasis on bad weather, cars and placelessness (so much like Beattie)--is brought to a pitch in the title novella: Arla Stein, a young woman working as the director of a small, private country museum, has her oh-so-careful life disrupted by changes that recapitulate the fragility of feelings, the collection of love, of continuity. Emotional material--but Furman presents it bloodlessly, in numbly day-to-day reports; and most of the stories end arbitrarily with stick-on-symbols that highlight the sense of purposelessness. Some of Beattie's less demanding followers may find these sad, sad accumulations damply cozy; for others--mostly enervating.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Viking