Memorial Day and Other Stories

Paul Scott Malone, Author Texas Christian University Press $15.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-87565-219-1
Malone (In an Arid Land) returns to the genre of short fiction to tell tales about a subtle code of Texas masculinity that sorts men into two categories: the losing kind and the winning kind. In ""Dalrymple's Jackpot,"" the longest of the seven entries, set in 1971, young Houstonian Clyde Dalrymple--a 19-year-old, divorced salesman whose main passion in life is his Camarro--has just been drafted into military service. Malone spiritedly takes us through two days in Dalrymple's life--the day his draft number comes up, and the day after--as he argues with his parents (with whom he is living), talks to his patriotic boss and negotiates with his ex-wife, Angie, who needs his car. In the reflective ""Memorial Day, 1987,"" William, a manic-depressive Vietnam vet defiantly off his medication, desperately wants to hang out a flag to commemorate the holiday. Unfortunately, William's psychological problems coalesce around the symbol of the flag, leading to a breakdown. A gentler story, ""The Solitary Heart,"" introduces widower Beamus Hardcastle, who's renting out his parents' old ranch house to an artistic couple, Alice and James Kraft. Since the rented house has no phone, Hardcastle has to deliver messages in person; on this particular day the news is that Alice's father has died. Arriving to convey the sad tidings, Beamus finds her outside, gathering flowers--topless. The scene sets Beamus's mind on love and lust, which hasn't stirred in him for some time, counterpoised, of course, with thoughts of death. All the stories Malone tells here follow fairly conventional plot lines, but they are distinguished by pithy prose and ear-friendly dialogue. Despite their bleak resolutions, each story is conveyed in a distinctive, urgent voice that augurs more good writing from this promising author. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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