Aliens of Affection

Padgett Powell, Author
Padgett Powell, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5213-8
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Shunted one way or another to the margins of the New South, the characters in these witty but often formulaic nine stories struggle for something approaching love and acceptance. As Mr. Albemarle, a character in the title story says: ""Affection was that which, and the only thing on earth which, you should be eternally thankful for."" In ""Trick or Treat,"" the collection's best offering, a neglected housewife embodies this principle by seducing a 12-year-old neighborhood ""Lolito."" In ""Scarlotti and the Sinkhole,"" a man injured (and possibly brain-damaged) in a highway accident yearns for a connection with the pretty clerk at his local liquor store. The connection comes, but only as he slides farther and farther from reality. The ""Wayne"" chronicles re-introduce, in a series of funny, surprisingly sympathetic vignettes, the redneck roofer and dreamer readers first met in Typical, Powell's first collection. Powell writes in hyperactive prose, borrowing language from commercials and employing characters who speak and think through a fog of non sequiturs and TV allusions; now and then their (gloriously rendered) trash-talk seems to interest Powell more than the people who generate it. Hip, sexy and playful throughout, only in its weakest stories does this collection sacrifice warmth for flippancy. Rights:: Janklow and Nesbit. (Jan.)
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