SINGING ON THE TITANIC by Perry Glasser

SINGING ON THE TITANIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One of four volumes in this year's Illinois Short Fiction series (see Potter, Rossiter, and Vogan), these nine old-fashioned stories by the author of Suspicious Origins (1983) all concern ordinary people, many from the lower classes, who face a variety of everyday temptations. Their world, as skillfully re-created by Glasser, is one of both bleakness and beauty, of denial and desire--a place where actions have consequences, for better or worse. Glasser's down-and-outers aren't always the total losers they seem to be. The naive Iowa girl of ""Mexico,"" a victim of incest and child abuse, hooks up with a greasy-haired drifter, himself a would-be drug-dealer who ""couldn't even bullshit in a straight line."" In this lengthy, Nelson Algrenish piece, a potentially tragic robbery spree turns into a brave journey of self-discovery. The narrator of ""Marmosets,"" a failure as a husband, father, and businessman, finds himself better off than his weary buddy, Paul, for having at least taken some chances, Similarly, the divorced older sister of ""What Doesn't Kill Me,"" at first envious of her younger sister's insouciance, realizes her failed marriage has made her stronger and wiser. An unwillingness to risk anything characterizes the bland couple of ""Visit,"" whose complacency is momentarily disturbed by a chance meeting with a dapper elderly man and his sexy young wife. In ""Steering Clear,"" the faithful husband and loving father, Aaron Pendergrast, is so used to avoiding trouble that he willfully ignores some important facts about his life. Two of the finest stories (""Easily and Well"" and ""The Last Game"") involve young adults who regret past reckless moments--their last acts of youthful whim. The quiet wisdom of these simple tales is best illustrated in the title story, where we're reminded, ""Don't let appearances fool you. They sang on the Titanic."" Nothing fancy here, just straightforward, truth-bearing realism.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1987
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press