TO SKIN A CAT: Stories by Thomas MeGuane

TO SKIN A CAT: Stories

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McGuane fans--who love his act-up and act-out, post-fraternity, much-too-rich and far-too-bored heroes--surely will eat up the title story here: a prime example of the species, named Bobby, buys hawks and goes jetting from London to New York to San Francisco, in the patient pursuit of his fantasy of becoming a pimp for his beautiful but not-amused girlfriend Marianne. The Robert-Stone-like violence at the end and the generously amusing dialogue throughout finally don't counterweight the essential callowness, though. No better--as glitzo--are shorter stories from the same mold: ""Little Extras,"" ""The Road Atlas,"" ""Partners."" But McGuane (Something to be Desired, Nobody's Angel, etc.), when he isn't pressed to be inventive--it's then, it seems, that the callowness always sneaks in--can also be quite good here. Two memoirs of boyhood--""Sportsmen and A Skirmish""--are very precisely fine; and the opening story, ""A Millionaire""--which has to do with a man in effect selling his unmarried daughter's baby for adoption--has a special obliquity and assurance that's concentrated and impressive. The same goes for ""Like a Leaf""--a man clearly undergoing a breakdown, given to touching eccentricity; here the McGuane hero has no swagger, only vulnerability and poetry. If you can overlook the gloss and smirks, there are nuggets for the finding here.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1986
Publisher: Dutton