I THOUGHT YOU WERE A UNICORN and Other Stories by Paul Darcy Boles


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To read these lambent stories (first published in magazines during the sixties) is to witness at once Mr. Boles' juvenescence and his characters' coming of age. They're not so much teen-agers as mature adolescents experiencing stirrings of love and aliveness, not taken for granted but buoyantly felt and shared: ""I delivered the first four or five orders with what you could call elan or celerity,"" Nate says in just the right mood for ""Miss Rose"" -- who will be just the right older woman for that first crush. . . though to call it a crush is ""like calling a Ferarri a vehicle"" (to borrow another boy's description of a singular ""brunette""). ""Today Is My Sister's Wedding"" leaves Simon adrift and aghast at his labile family; only his dog is a constant -- ""His breath smells of itself. It has a lot of integrity."" About halfway between Paul Zindel and a Salinger, the phrases stream with their own slightly passe verisimilitude to a polished level of likely awkwardness -- literary awkwardness. But they lose in repetition, and the formulas do too: ""A Verray Parfit Gentle Knight"" and the ""Holiday Rider"" both are guys with a feeling for kids and each one is rewarded by a new girl who knocks not that feeling. If A Million Guitars (1968) relied on the twists in the tales, the eleven here work or not as whole vignettes -- and they generally do, given a certain measure of empathy, some good-humored concessions, and a taste for or sense of the wistful. Without which last, consult Kate McNair's more immediate Book of Directions (1970, p. 963, J-373).

Pub Date: March 18th, 1971
Publisher: Little, Brown