Man Without Memory

Richard Burgin, Author, Burgin, Author University of Illinois Press $14.95 (124p) ISBN 978-0-252-01602-8
With the odd assortment of troubled characters in this slim collection, Burgin proves himself an author with a harrowing vision of predicaments peculiar to the current American scene. Told in the first person, these nine stories depict confused and compromised individuals, moving obsessively from city to city, fleeing their pasts but heading toward uncertain futures. Though well-educated and savvy, these characters lack self-knowledge, and carry their intelligence as a burden instead of a comfort. In ``Notes on Mrs. Slaughter,'' a young man without self-identity rooms with a paranoid woman near Harvard and is drawn into her delusion that she is being followed by the Mafia. The theme is repeated in ``Mason,'' as, against his will, a young itinerant handyman becomes involved with the proprietress of a boardinghouse. The stories often reveal a sexual undertow, such as the suppressed incestuous attraction in ``Constitution Day,'' or the confused longing and repulsion the female narrator in ``Carlin's Trio'' feels for the married couple she meets at a music festival.The most powerful and finely crafted, ``The Victims'' explores the fate of two gifted and fiercely competitive friends in a relationship so close it threatens to ruin their lives. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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