SHE LOVED ME ONCE and Other Stories by Lester Goran

SHE LOVED ME ONCE and Other Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Veteran writer Goran revisits the milieu he introduced in Tales from the Irish Club (1996) with more nostalgic, if not always notable, tales of the club's habituâs. As in his previous collection, it's Goran's evocation of a time--the 1940s and early '50s; a place--the projects of Pittsburgh; and a people--the working-class Irish who lived there--that give the stories a special edge. The city still belonged at that time to people who had good jobs in the mills, lived in the neighborhoods where they grew up, and socialized upstairs in such places as the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Local #9. A close, warm world, but also one with its downside: Family scandals are soon public knowledge, and grudges are often settled in public. In the title story, a man marries a woman with a birthmark; to his bewilderment, instead of being grateful she divorces him six years later. Disconsolate, he haunts the club. Stories that particularly catch the flavor of the milieu include ""Our Billy,"" in which two families feud over an accidental death; their enmity is resolved when his ghost is seen at the club. In ""The Big Snow,"" a college-bound member marooned in the club with two old alcoholics realizes that his attitude to their dancing has spoiled ""a good time for people who don't have that many of them."" In ""The Moment,"" a lonely boy's delight at being accepted as a member when he courts one of the local women is destroyed when he betrays her. Other pieces relate a son's being comforted by the bartender's recollections of his saintly father (""Evening with Right Racklin"") and a young man's inability to return to the club after talking too freely about making love to his wife-to-be (""Spellbinder""). Literate tales that chart the waywardness of the human heart--but in strokes too broad and sentimental to be truly affecting.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0873385764
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: Kent State Univ.