"STARDUST, 7-ELEVEN, ROUTE 57, A & W, AND SO FORTH: Stories" by Patricia Lear


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Eight short stories that strain after the colloquial in familiar ways: occasional sparkle and one gem in a mostly uninspired debut. Lear has it down pat: the neo-literary non-literary voice with its awkward syntax, likes, you knows, the sudden unmoored entry into stories, and narrators who tell their lives flat out (""How it usually goes in the mornings is..."") with cute assessments (""The way we are is a couple....""; ""Boredom is what I tell myself I feel""). In the novella-length ""Solace"" (which provides the collection's title: Stardust, 7-Eleven, etc., being the names of the protagonist's dogs), musician C.W. tries to five out a beer-commercial-inspired vision, taking his aspiring trumpeter son and two sexy divorcÉes on a weekend gig; the son--resentful of losing practice time--turns hostile while the women--left in front of the hotel TV with nothing to do--soon, like the reader, grow bored. Characters, dropped into situations touching on life and earth, remain essentially unchanged. In ""After Memphis,"" the lively responses of southern children moving to Yankeeland and a plot involving snakes get lost as the story goes on too long Only ""Angels""--about the funny, tender but ephemeral relationship between a woman who's recently had a mastectomy and the actor working briefly as her handyman--manages to be contemporary, quirky, and moving. Lear subordinates depth and plot to style, which might work if the style were not by now so familiar.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1992
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Knopf