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The superficial concerns of Wintner’s characters, evident in earlier fiction (Homunculus, p. 419, etc.), are here given ten variations in a collection of vaguely interesting people thinking moderately deep thoughts about unstartling things.

Wintner might have completed his title by adding “and not a condom to be found.” Most of these stories involve men and women sleeping together for whatever reasons, their coupling a cathartic apex of murmuring doubts and hidden thoughts. Everybody asks about condoms, but nobody has one. In the most fully realized tale, middle-aged Dezmun Deyung makes a mint selling chicken innards for crab bait and as a logical consequence gets to sleep with a local college girl. Some pages away, a middle-aged woman with a great body schemes to bed the lifeguard at the local pool, and succeeds in consummating an affair that ends in guilt and redemption. In still another piece, a dog explains how much he has learned about love. When, in another, a middle-aged, recently divorced man who regrets having said something mean to his algebra teacher in high school calls her up; she is all too happy to have intercourse with him. In the title story, a middle-aged tourist in Fiji hooks up with a local girl, goes shopping, and insists they go back to her “third world” cement home. There, he unloads the groceries; Nita Nancy and her sister pee in the dirt; and the tourist has sex with her, intending to procreate. Sadly, this gesture of cross-cultural spawning is forgotten as he returns to his wife and children.

Forget all the teachers who told you that a story comes to rest with a pleasing finality. In Wintner’s world, characters drift aimlessly through their lives while readers long in vain for something beyond ribald humor that might produce a satisfying pause.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-57962-028-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000


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