From the resourceful, bestselling Trevanian (Incident at Twenty-Mile, 1998, etc.), an uneven but intriguing collection of stories. Several appeared under pseudonyms in small literary magazines, and some were written with greater attention to word-choice and originality than others. The title piece appears twice, with a different last page each time. Unfortunately, neither ending can make its two characters, a young man who imitates movie voices and a virgin in the city, ring true. Far livelier is “Snatch Off Your Cap, Kid!,” in which a carnie huckster gives lessons to a hobo youngster about how to woo food out of widows and other survival tactics. A standout among the remaining tales is the deeply felt “Mrs McGivney’s Nickel,” which examines a boy growing up in upstate New York, the radio serials he loved, and his relationship with a seemingly crazy widow who sent him on errands for a nickel. “Easter Story,” about Pontius Pilate weighing the history of the Jews, also has staying power.
A must for Trevanian buffs, and newcomers may be curious enough to look into his novels—which are like none of these stories.