FRIENDS: More Will and Magna Stories by Stephen Dixon

FRIENDS: More Will and Magna Stories

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The prolific Dixon offers up his 13th book, ten interlinked stories. Of late, Dixon, who usually improvises rather than develops his stories, has hit the usual metafictional and urban malaise themes in an offhand, slapdash way, resulting here in a gimmicky, unaffecting collection. At best, this batch is merely clever. At worst, some pieces, such as ""Finished"" (""I can't finish anything anymore""), might as well have been taken verbatim from the writer's journals. The most interesting of these throwaways include ""Magna out of Earshot,"" a telephone conversation between Magna's fiancÉ and a woman once involved with him. Of the rest, ""Magna as a Child"" contains another interminable telephone conversation; ""Cooked Goose,"" a metafiction, tries to be amusing but sounds merely accurate in its critical judgments (""They said no more stories, no more novels, we don't want anything of yours anymore, your novels don't sell, your collections do even worse. . .""); ""Friends"" is more literary chitchat, this time centering on an alleged plagiarism and structured as a series of ""Who's on First"" phone calls; in ""Magna as the Good Woman,"" Magna gets mugged at home and raped in graphic detail, then turns the tables sexually on her attacker (the piece ends up absurdist, but not sufficiently absurdist, and needlessly sadistic); ""Will the Writer"" is about a writer calling every bookstore in town looking for his latest book; and ""Only the Cat Escapes"" is a short yet tedious conversation between Will the Writer and Magna as they sit together in bed and decide whether to make love. Most of these were originally published in small, obscure magazines; none of them makes a case for deserving larger exposure.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
ISBN: 1878580191
Publisher: Asylum Arts (P.O. Box 6203, Santa Maria, CA 93456)