FOLLIES: And New Stories

Ann Beattie, Author . Scribner $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-6961-2

Odd but subtle coincidences, missed connections, strained family relations—these are the major dynamics in Beattie's latest collection of nine stories and a novella. In the latter, "Flechette Follies," a random accident—George Wissone rear-ends Nancy Gregerson at a stoplight—in Charlottesville, Va., sparks a connection that affects far-flung people. Nancy's troubled son is MIA in London, and she hires George (whom she correctly guesses to be in the CIA) to track him down. When George himself disappears, it affects not only Nancy but also George's on-again, off-again girlfriend and others who join forces to learn his fate. Beattie's stories of adult children attempting to make sense of their aging parents and their own relationships are also compelling. In "Find and Replace," a woman tries to comprehend her mother's decision to suddenly move in with another man following the death of her husband; "The Rabbit Hole as Likely Explanation" spools out the strained relations between two siblings after their mother has a stroke. While a few stories read more like extended vignettes, Beattie's trademarks are here: the careful language, the deft humor and the sad, slow sweetness of life winding its way on. Fans should be happy to find that after all these years, this esteemed writer's characters can still be expected to muse over life's ironies and find no easy conclusions. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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