Wanting Only to Be Heard -Awp

Jack Driscoll, Author
Jack Driscoll, Author University of Massachusetts Press $32.5 (208p) ISBN 978-0-87023-808-6
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Most of the 18 stories in this collection, recipient of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction, are tinged with a peculiar sense of longing, one that comes from a conventionally ascribed male inability to express emotion. Actions here take the place of words, but they rarely achieve their goals; the characters are left with a sensation of loss that only their creator is able to articulate. And Driscoll does it well, if occasionally too well: the prose is polished to a watertight gloss, and the actions are set up as symbolic long before they have the chance to be lifelike first. The title story, in which a trio of boys take a deadly gamble with their own intimation of immortality and an ice-fishing hole, is in several ways the most forced on these counts. The author places his sophisticated notions of storytelling--``Judge said you could measure a story by its private disclosure''--in the mouths of babes, where it sounds an off note. Many of the briefer tales, such as ``The Season of Families,'' about a marriage of opposites and told from the woman's point of view, don't suffer as much from the intrusion. But overall, the stories exude a Hemingwayesque machismo, and this is not only because they are mainly about men and boys, fathers and sons, and often center on deer or bear hunting, baseball, or risk-taking (some confused youngsters climb a water tower and play with fireworks in ``Killing Time''). It's also because at times poet Driscoll ( Building the Cold from Memory ) exerts so much literary muscle on his material that it fails to breathe, although it's bursting with potential. (Nov.)
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