A beautiful collection of 11 stories focusing on love, loss and—as the subtitle suggests—dreams.
tends to focus on small events that paradoxically give life meaning—or at least
cause his characters to question life’s meaning. The opening story provides the
title for the entire volume, and it’s stunning. In a series of numbered
paragraphs, the narrator recounts a brief encounter with a woman, a copy editor
with runway model looks. They’ve met briefly before in Los Angeles but have a
one-night fling in New York City when he’s visiting the East Coast. While he
seems to find out a lot about her, he discovers later that she’d taken her life
and realizes how little he actually knew. Another brilliant story about
relationships is “Tell Me About Nerval,” in which a young college student,
self-described as a “bonehead sociology major” at Cornell, goes to live with
Billy, her teaching assistant from a French literature course, when he’s
awarded a grant to work on his dissertation in Paris. While there, she has a
one-night stand with Alex, a handsome young Frenchman, at a shabby hotel in
Montmartre. Later she learns that Alex preys on naïve American girls such as
herself, but the lies she feels forced to tell Billy ultimately lead to the
disintegration of their relationship. The story is a tour de force and a
single, 18-page sentence long. “Oh, Such Playwrights!” examines the good and
bad fortunes of three New York playwrights whose lives, we find toward the end
of the story, have briefly but memorably intertwined.
LaSalle’s stories are subtle, evocative, haunting—and brilliantly written.