All Around Atlantis: Stories

Deborah Eisenberg, Author
Deborah Eisenberg, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-27087-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-671-02462-8
Ebook - 243 pages - 978-0-374-70777-4
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-1-86207-161-2
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Each of these seven original +short stories in Eisenberg's new collection (which follows close on the publication of The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg), is better than the previous one. The last four stories overwhelm (and more than justify) the weaker, opening three. The satisfying ""Rosie Gets a Soul"" takes a look at a fairly stable ex-junkie's pitiful attempts to exercise control over her new, clean life. ""Mermaids"" presents a perceptive child's-eye view of adults' feeble attempts to hide obvious truths from their children. As in Eisenberg's previous fiction, displaced travelers--young college types, long-term jaded hippies, expats, failed journalists and musicians--find a south-of-the-border home between her pages. In this vein, ""Across the Lake"" stands out, playing a naive college boy against the creepy couple of fellow Americans who recklessly lead him into a guerrilla war zone in a vaguely identified South American country. Capping this collection, the brilliant title story recounts a daughter's attempts, after the death of her mother, a Holocaust survivor, to piece together the remaining mysteries of her own childhood. In these short narratives, what is not said is almost as important as what is stated: stalls, pauses and unfinished thoughts open new vistas in the characters' minds. As usual, one marvels at Eisenberg's ability to ground her characters in habits of thought and feeling that are at once utterly private and at the same time perfectly, universally everyday. (Sept.)
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