Bending Time

Stephen Minot, Author
Stephen Minot, Author Permanent Press (NY) $16 (189p) ISBN 978-1-877946-96-7
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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Novelist Minot's (Surviving the Flood) second short-fiction collection (after Crossings) contains a dozen stylish short stories dealing with the passage of time and its effect on memory and hope for the future. The theme is not limiting, however: imaginatively evoked characters and a diversity of settings make these tales lively, poignant and engaging. The stories in the first section, called ""Bending Time and Memory,"" frequently delve into the troubled memories of female protagonists. Malvina Hodgson Boone, in ""A Sometimes Memory,"" is a 45-year-old who hasn't seen the rest of her clan during the years she's been in a mental institution. At her father's funeral, Malva's memories weave in and out of past and present as her siblings begin reminiscing about growing up in a dysfunctional family. The characters in the second section, ""Time in Exile,"" undergo life-altering experiences while abroad. Victor, the French socialite in ""A Death in Paris,"" lives a lie to his American friends and winds up among this collection's most sympathetic characters--even though we discover, in the tale's second sentence, that he is dead and his friends discover that their memories of him must be reevaluated. Minot's ironic humor flourishes in the third section, appropriately labeled ""Time in the American City."" Where else but in America would a guy like Dennis Kepple, in ""Things Not Everyone Can Do,"" be hailed as an artistic genius for the campy patterns he creates from fabric and paper? And where else but in a place like Venice, Calif., could his past and his future become clear in one evening? In their careful construction and narrative brio, Minot's stories impressively cover a canvas of contemporary life. (Sept.)
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