DREAM OF THE WOLF by Scott Bradfield


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Bradfield follows up his strange and brilliant first novel (The History of Luminous Motion, 1989) with a glittering if uneven collection of 13 short stories--each centered upon a downtrodden loner who retreats into a primordial world of the mind. In the title piece, a man forsakes his bland everyday life for the wild tundra of his dreams. He dreams of wolves, and in each dream the wolf overtakes the man (""When I dream of the wolf, I am the wolf. I've been wolves in New York, Montana and Beirut. It's as if time and space, dream and reality have just opened up, joined me with everything, everything real""). Here, then, what is real, or hyperreal, to each of Bradfield's characters is the submerged Atlantis of the subconscious. ""Sometimes I even travel down there, you know,"" says the young protagonist of ""Wind Box."" ""I move among plates of stone and basalt, past sunken lakes of oil and natural gas."" Sometimes he dreams of earthquakes as he roams his prehistoric netherworld, waking to discover that an earthquake has really rattled L.A. Similarly, a lonely young woman in ""Unmistakably the Finest"" joins the Worldwide Church of Prosperity and discovers that she can fill her home with the latest expensive consumer goods just by dreaming that she finds them at the top of a winding staircase. In the best of these stories, the dreamers who possess such improbable powers ponder them with wry acceptance. ""I'm not saying we should deny the world or anything,"" says the superintelligent dog of ""Dazzle."" ""I'm just saying, let's give our dreams half a chance too. Let's maintain some faith not only in the world but in our dreams of it."" There are bellyflops among the successes, but, overall, Bradfield, a David Lynch of prose, plies his agile and understated craft to show us the shadowy depths beneath everyday appearances--""everything lived its own life down there in the basements of houses and bodies.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1990
Publisher: Knopf