BENDING TIME by Stephen Minot


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 Novelist Minot delivers a second collection of well-tuned fictions (after Crossings, 1975, not reviewed)--all perfectly balanced in their ability to evoke, enchant, and engage. As the title suggests, the 12 stories here focus on the powerful, often corrosive effect that time's passage can have on memories and our expectations. The volume is divided into three parts: ``Bending Time and Memory,'' in which the characters are inextricably bound to the past; ``Time in Exile,'' which reveals the disjointed lives of Americans living abroad; and ``Time in the American City.'' ``The Senator's Son'' (in Part III) subtly depicts the strained relationship between a prominent US senator and his estranged, antiestablishment son, the two now brought together for the funeral of the young man's mother. Their futile tug-of-war, with the senator trying to reclaim his golden boy of the past, with his beach bum son negating his father's dreams at every turn, ends with a pathetic arm-wrestling contest to determine control. Some of the most compelling pieces focus on Americans living in exile, literally and emotionally. ``Exiles'' portrays the bittersweet reunion of a son and his father on the latter's 70th birthday. All the players in the story are exiles of some sort: Robert's father has spent the last 35 years in Geneva as an academic; Robert lives in Paris with his wife, who herself feels disconnected from her rural hometown; and finally there's their friend Sigmund, German and black, who feels lost and without a homeland. ``A Death in Paris'' begins with the death of Victor, a longtime Paris resident famous for his generosity and charm, and follows the alarming discoveries about Victor and his double life made by two of his old American friends. What they find throws into question the validity of their memories and of the past itself. A fine example of the power and resonance of short fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-877946-96-6
Page count: 190pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997