BELIEVE THEM by Mary Robison


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Seven oh-so-trendy stories by a writer who, with Beattie, Carver, et al., has helped set the (mono) tone for hip contemporary fiction. Most of these pieces are just that--snippets in search of context, of something to give them resonance and meaning. As they are, the only messages come from bumper stickers, T-shirts, and bathroom graffiti. And these bits of wacky wisdom seldom touch on the actual events at hand, if you can really call them events, since nothing much happens here. ""Trying"" strings together bits about an odd sort of girl (the daughter of liberal poverty lawyers) whose weirdness--mostly wisecracking outbursts during class--seems to be indulged by the nuns at her suburban Catholic school. Another spoiled young woman (in ""Mirror"") recalls the reason she's been friends all her life with the unmarried, pregnant girl she's visiting: they ""remembered the same stuff."" Robison displays a certain fondness for suburban family life: the brother recuperating back home after an unsuccessful foray to Hollywood (""While Home""); the children who turn the house upside down one night while the parents usher in yet another sibling at the hospital (""Seizing Control""); the young mother of three who ""gets by"" after her husband dies in a plane accident. The one excellent piece here, ""Again, Again, Again,"" picks up the story--is there a novel gestating?--of ""The Coach"" from Robison's last collection (An Amateur's Guide to the Night). The quick wit that she flashed in her novel Oh! glimmers also in this saga of a college football coach, his artist wife, and their smart-lipped teen daughter as they settle into yet another new town. Remaining stories include two tales of soured affairs, and three of crumbling marriages. Mostly drab and disposable stuff, with some hints of Robison's comic gift.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1988
Publisher: Knopf