YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS: Contemporary American Stories by Ron--Ed. Hansen

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS: Contemporary American Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Novelist Hansen (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 1983) gathers 24 stories by the most recent of American writers to provide ""sundry perspectives on love."" These stories can be read, Hansen tells us, as ""squint-eyed replies to a philosophy of love that is wanting in its accuracy or completeness."" Better yet to view them as a mostly predictable collection of overrated New Young Voices (Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, David Leavitt), nco-proletarian minimalists (Tobias Wolff, Bobbie Ann Mason, Raymond Carver), and literary war horses (Updike, Atwood, Oates). There are gems here nonetheless: Andre Dubus' ""A Father's Story,"" about a stable-owner in northwest Mass., and Jim Shepard's ""The Piano Stops Here,"" a witty tale about patience in affairs of the heart. Stories range in subject from one about a young boy unwilling to accept his father's remarriage (Jonathan Penner's ""Frankenstein Meets the Ant People"") to Charles Baxter's ""Horace and Margaret's Fifty. Second,"" about a crotchety couple celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary. Less-known writers are well represented: there are Jeanne Schinto's ""The Friendships of Girls Unpopular Together,"" about a disappointing meeting between two equally awkward pen pals, and Robert Dunn's ""Hopeless Acts Performed Properly, with Grace,"" in which a lonely guy in N.Y.C. doesn't give up after his affair with a capricious neighbor fails. None of these stories gains through Hansen's too-widely-defined topical arrangement.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1987
ISBN: 0865380600
Publisher: Ontario Review--dist. by Persea