Literary Traveller: 2an Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction

Larry Dark, Author, Larry Dark, Editor
Larry Dark, Author, Larry Dark, Editor Viking Books $22.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-670-84578-1
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-14-017163-1
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At the heart of each of these 19 short stories about the passion and purpose of travel is the emotional baggage a character carries. In Paul Theroux's ``Portrait of a Lady,'' a Harvard Business School graduate cannot enjoy the romance of Paris because of his mission as a courier. In the late Maria Thomas's ``Summer Opportunity,'' a bookish and overweight African American student suddenly finds herself a sex goddess in Nigeria. The best stories here present views of change: William Maxwell's ``The Gardens of Mont-Saint-Michel'' concerns a husband and wife who encounter disappointment when, 18 years after a paradisiacal visit to the abbey of the title, they return there with their family; elsewhere, the late Allen Barnett's ``Succor'' finds an HIV-positive man returning to Rome after spending years as a care-partner. Although Dark (The Literary Lover) has assembled only traditionally constructed short stories, several are superbly crafted, including Alice Munro's ``Hold Me Fast, Don't Let Me Pass,'' about a woman uncovering her late husband's past in Scotland, and Lorrie Moore's ``Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People,'' concerning a visit by a woman and her mother to the Blarney Stone. A few stories disappoint, particularly Fay Weldon's ``Wasted Lives,'' with its flat, nameless city, and the speculative construct of Steven Millhauser's ``The Sepia Postcard.'' But in these tales, too, characters find a deeper understanding of themselves away from home. As a woman fighting illness in Kate Braverman's ``Virgin of Tenderness'' notes, ``You can know yourself absolutely in any ancient ruin.'' (Nov.)
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