FRIDAY NIGHT AT SILVER STAR by Patricia Henley

FRIDAY NIGHT AT SILVER STAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Henley is a Montana poet who has written a sad, roughly elegant first collection of stories about modern drifters still moved by the spirit of the 60's. ""The first night we met, Noah read my palm. We were drinking home-brew in his caretaker's cabin at Broken Heart Ranch."" So begins ""Black Ice,"" a story which in many ways typifies the collection. The bisexual narrator, Roxie, has just broken up with her lover, Ramona, and is leaving a small Montana town when her van breaks down; she's picked up by a caretaker/bartender, Noah, and stays overnight with him. She's 35, he's 39, but the 1960's are still fresh for them--they end up taking peyote, reminiscing, and making love in a tired, gentle, rather passionless way (a one-night stand between strangers who nonetheless share a past). Of the eight stories in the collection, the best two are the first and the last: ""Let Me Call You Sweetheart"" and ""As Luck Would Have It."" Both take place on a kind of commune (possibly in Washington State, where the author herself lived on one); the narrator is a woman named Virginia, 46, who tells you little about herself except that she's celibate and has an ex-husband named Crazy Horse who lives across the road. Instead, she concentrates on her wonderful friend Sunbow, for whom ""men are as necessary. . .as water, or so she thinks."" Sunbow is always falling in love with a crash and a bang, and Henley describes her sometimes desperate infatuations with affection and tenderness. Altogether, Henley is a tight, spare, melancholy writer, unaffected, and refreshing to read.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Graywolf