Tabloid Dreams: Stories

Robert Olen Butler, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3131-7
Endlessly playful, inventive and daring, Butler (They Whisper) challenges himself with each new book. He does so again in this intriguing collection of 12 short stories in which he combines the bizarre and the matter-of-fact with remarkable legerdemain. What at first seems a blatant device proves instead to be an interesting catalyst: the titles mimic lurid tabloid headlines, but Butler develops such howlers as ""Help Me Find My Spaceman Lover'' and ""Woman Hit by Car Turns into Nymphomaniac'' into eerie or outlandish situations that become funny and affecting stories capable of touching universal chords. Each tale has a first-person narrator, ranging from a nine-year-old boy who kills mobsters with insouciance to a jealous husband who is reincarnated as a parrot bought by his former wife. In one irreverent but poignant story, JFK, in hiding since the (unsuccessful) assassination attempt, attends the Jackie auction, where he muses on his late wife's naked body. Although in each entry the epiphanic moment arises from a surreal situation, the format does not result in any sameness of tone, voice, plot structure or setting; the latter include an Alabama trailer park and a Manhattan book editor's plush office. A few stories (""Doomsday Meteor Is Coming''; ""Woman Loses Cookie Bake-Off, Sets Self on Fire'') try too hard, but the collection has a strong emotional impact, especially when one reaches the last story, which echoes the first, both of which are inspired by the sinking of the Titanic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.