25 AND UNDER by Susan Ketchin


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 Generational anthologies have proven themselves in the marketplace (if not among critics) as an effective way to introduce new talent, and this collection, put together by editors associated with the magazine DoubleTake, is no exception--the young writers here run the gamut from inept to elegant. The editors are so aware that their greatest find is Jason Brown that they include two of his stories among the 15--everyone else is represented by just one. Brown opens the volume with ``The Dog Lover,'' the story of a recovering junkie who can't bring himself to shoot his dying dog, as he is urged to do by his father, a blind Vietnam vet whose wife committed suicide. Despite the relentlessly bleak details, it's an uplifting piece about faith and fathers, and mirrors its companion ``Animal Stories'' (which closes the collection), about a young man's reflections on his dying mother's life and her refusal to accept treatment for her cancer. Religion and belief figure in many stories here, as do heroin, alcoholism, and madness. ``Indian Summer Sunday,'' by Creston Lea, brings all of it together in a tale of a minister's apostasy and his late-night drunk-driving before Sunday services. It's a far more convincing narrative than ``Asylum,'' a mental patient's ramblings. ``White Flight,'' by Tim Vanech, poses a social problem with clarity and intelligence, while ``Like a Crossing Guard,'' also a social study of sorts, never finds focus for its tale set at a juvenile detention center. Troubled families naturally figure in a number of pieces: an alcoholic mother in ``Flamingo,'' a feuding brood in ``Waiting Game,'' etc. ``Manna Walking,'' a short and moving vignette, concerns an Indian woman on the way home from the A&P who finds redemption and God's love in an ordinary event. Even if Brown is the only clearly distinctive new voice here, it's still a good introduction to young writers learning their craft.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-393-04120-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997