IN THIS BLOCK THERE LIVES A SLAG...

Bill Broady, Author . HarperCollins/Flamingo $17.95 (242p) ISBN 978-0-00-225947-7

Broady (Swimmer) literately and artistically probes the dark corners of blue-collar British life in his first short story collection, deftly maneuvering his way through gutbucket settings while displaying his smart, perceptive and often fascinating voice. He's at his best in the longer entries, often taking an appealing conceit and twisting it in a variety of intriguing directions, most notably in "Bouncing Back," a story about the reappearance of some talented and versatile bears in a down-and-out British town. He delves into man's relationship with domestic animals in "Wrestling Jacob," the tale of a lusty architect who sublimates his libido in a series of wrestling matches with a sheep. Broady is also a bit of a literary pub-crawler, choosing saloons for his setting in several stories, the most appealing being "The Tale of the Golden Bath Taps," the story of a musician's very strange relationship with a stripper. Also included is a lovely, glowing tribute to Sun Ra in "Short Cut to the Sun," the description of a night at one of the late musician's wonderfully bizarre concerts. Broady's characters often find themselves taking a winding, choppy road to their destinations, and the author doesn't always connect the dots or fill in the narrative gaps as well as he could. But his sharp, rough-hewn voice sticks out like a wolf in a chicken coop, and this book represents another solid building block in the career of an author who shows signs of becoming a literary star. (Mar. 15)

Forecast:Some of the British references will confound U.S. readers, but the success of Swimmer should help this title find an audience.

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-00-729290-5
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