TIGERS IN THE WOOD by Rebecca Kavaler


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Seven stories, for the most part made shallow by the constraints of faded convention, though once or twice modestly touching. In ""Depression Glass,"" a grandfather remembers having been shamed, in childhood, at overhearing his parents' late-night laughter at the impracticality of a gift the boy had gotten for his mother; in spite of an essay-like ending, the story controls its Depression-era nostalgia effectively. Commonplace in idea and sometimes in image, ""The Perfume of Love"" nevertheless allows a married couple to mull over their past--when their 30-year-old daughter comes to visit--with moments that are delicately touching; and ""Those Grand Old Songs,"" about an eccentric, ex-radical grandmother, skips lightly over its material with a certain stylized grace. Elsewhere, though, the stories are contrived and substanceless. The title story, about a woman being tracked by a rapist, falls prey to the exaggerated and Manichaean conventions of TV drama, and ""Local Habitations,"" about a couple who run oat of money at a gambling spa, is surface only ('""Oh Alan,' she giggled, 'this is better than pot, do you suppose there was something extra in that joint last night?'""). About marital infidelity, ""The Zeigarnik Effect"" is utterly vacuous in its characters; and ""Little Boy Blue"" sets the scene for a fat woman, whose son committed suicide, to seduce the doorman's teen-age boy in an O. Henry-cum-Hitchcock psycho-drama that's prime-time-thin on the psycho side and mere cliff-hanger trickery on the drama end. In all, an uneven volume, with the lower reaches very low. Two pieces have appeared in Yale Review, one in Mid-American Review, and one--""Little Boy Blue""--in Carolina Quarterly.

Pub Date: July 31st, 1986
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press