What He's Poised to Do

Ben Greenman, Author . Harper Perennial $13.99 (170p) ISBN 978-0-06-198740-3

Fourteen very self-conscious stories from Greenman (Please Step Back ) demonstrate the author's easy hand with formal manipulation, though his command over emotional terrain proves to be circumspect. The collection is bracketed by two very short stories (the title story and “Her Hand”) built around picture postcards (indeed, postmarks appear at the beginning of each story), and the varied stories between them all move with transparency; Greenman's prose is polished to a fine gloss that handily guides the reader along. While some stories only get a few details—two stories with cloyingly cute and very long titles are among the shortest; their titles virtual punch lines—others spin on, dominated less by substance than by stylistic demands, as with “Seventeen Different Ways to Get a Load of That,” which documents a relationship breakdown in short numbered cuts. The strongest story, “What We Believe We Cannot Praise,” about changing dynamics at a law firm, hints at Greenman's talent and begs for a longer treatment than it gets in this chilly if playful collection. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-06-200298-3
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