WHERE THE ROAD BOTTOMS OUT by Victoria Redel

WHERE THE ROAD BOTTOMS OUT

Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In this, her debut collection, Redel (a Gordon Lish protÇgÇ) gives us 16 stories (some previously published in, among other places, The Quarterly and The Antioch Review) that, taken together, comprise a wild smorgasbord of subject, voice, and skill. It is difficult to find a unifying style or theme here, as Redel's influences seem to run the gamut from magical realism to Mamet. Thus, many of the tales (``Where the Road Bottoms Out,'' ``Wool,'' ``My Little Pledge of Us,'' etc.) are impressionistic exercises that seem to turn upon childhood reminiscences recalled from a great distance of years: Basically plotless and rhetorically baroque, they tend to revolve around one theme--usually, the exile or ancestry of a Russian family in America--that is not so much developed as continually and elaborately reiterated. These are not narratives in any real sense, then, and they fail as evocations as well--insofar as they do not create an atmosphere coherent enough to sustain the ambiguity of plot. As a contrast, ``Avenge! Avenge!'' is told in the macho voices of several Wall Street sharks, working-class low-lives who sit around a table after work and compete to provide the most pungent story of life on the Exchange. And ``Service, Servic, Servi''--the most successfully realized piece in the collection--provides a tale of class and generational conflict enclosed within the outline of a jewel heist. Altogether, a very mixed bag. Redel combines a sharp eye with a ready tongue--but fails, for the most part, to let the reader see what she's describing. Underripe.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-42071-1
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995




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