Bone by Bone

Gary Krist, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-15-182064-1
Probing the quiet depths of suburban desperation, Krist ( The Garden State ) extends the lessons of Cheever and Updike while steering his second short-story collection in some decidedly odd directions. The author has a knack for creating characters who teeter between the ordinary and the ridiculous, and he is at his best when combining humor or empathy with a conventional situation turned sideways or upside down. ``Ever Alice,'' the tale of a casual lover who turns out to be a near-femme fatale, opens with the delightful teaser, ``The first thing she ever did to me was ruin Emily Dickinson.'' ``Hungry,'' set in Westchester, relates the adventures of Frank, an assistant embalmer who decides to move to Hungry, Alaska, and finds half the residents of his town eager to come along for the ride. On the more serious side, ``Baggage'' conveys the anguish of a man who decides to leave a relationship as his lover faces the steady decline caused by her cerebral palsy. Lesser entries are emotionally effective but have plots that lean toward stereotype. ``Eclipse'' captures the chagrin of a newly divorced man who's about to be displaced, while the three ``Erickson Stories'' confront the decline and fall of a marriage. Krist is a promising talent, a banner carrier for the long-awaited renaissance of the short story. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!