The Garden State: Short Stories

Gary Krist, Author
Gary Krist, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $16.95 (178p) ISBN 978-0-15-134292-1
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Suburban northern New Jersey, in the vicinity of Route 4, is the setting for many of the amusingly perceptive vignettes in this first collection of eight stories. Through these piquant human comedies, Krist takes us into family constellations that change with growing up, becoming old or getting divorced. The opening story, ``Tribes of Northern New Jersey,'' deals with Josh, an adolescent son shuffling between his father, who still feels ``a little like your mother's husband,'' and his mother, a successful realtor in Teaneck who is remarried, this time to a garage mechanic, as they all orchestrate the annual backyard barbecue to the accompaniment of the traffic drone from the nearby highway. The most antic humor is generated in ``How I Learned to Raise the Dead in Bergen County,'' with its overtones of a Woody Allen scenario. Mark, a high school student with a flair for writing, creates a serendipitous though short-lived career as the writer of canned eulogies for Guswald's Funeral Home. Krist's sensitive capturing of a boy's devotion to his senile grandmother, sequestered in the family's basement, makes ``The Canonization'' a wry evocation of adolescent ambivalence. Krist knows his territory and his people, pinning down their reality in a cultural ambiance that nourishes smiles of recognition. (October)
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