THE HARRY AND SYLVIA STORIES by Welch Everman

THE HARRY AND SYLVIA STORIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An odd grab-bag of 13 stories--fabulisms, minimalisms, and absurdities--each containing a character named Harry and another named Sylvia: a gimmicky device, though it does manage to make the otherwise disparate pieces hang together. ``The Woman on the Bus'' describes a family man (at home, ``Harry plays the part of Harry'') obsessed with a woman who commutes with him on the bus. The juxtaposition between workaday reality and this Harry's fantasy life is apt and revealing of a man who is Walter Mitty-like. ``Harry and Sylvia and Sylvia and So On'' concerns a divorced Harry who replaces wife Sylvia--first with parakeet Sylvia, then with dog Sylvia--and eventually brings home a prostitute, whom he calls Sylvia; the dog attacks the prostitute, and they both disappear into the night. Likewise, ``The Family Album'' is a haunting exploration of a lonely man who begins to receive photos of a Sylvia in the mail, in the beginning weekly, then more intermittently; Harry and his vicarious Sylvia will grow old together. Of the remaining pieces, a few are based on premises merely superficial or silly--``The King of Clubs,'' for instance, is about a Harry on a plane who falls in love with a club sandwich and traces down the Sylvia who makes them for the airline; ``Nuts'' is about a Harry who talks to squirrels--and some others, though promising, just don't quite come off. Absurdist forays into fantasies or eccentricities that are at their best when they're also funny. Some of the pieces first appeared in magazines like Grand Street, North American Review, and The South Carolina Review.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1993
ISBN: 1-55713-052-3
Page count: 160pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992