Greetings from Earth: New and Collected Stories

Scott Bradfield, Author Picador USA $13 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14088-5
Bradfield (What's Wrong With America) is an acutely--sometimes painfully--unsentimental chronicler of our times in these inventive short stories. Only eight of these stories are new to publication, but all are startling and effective. Bradfield often uses animals in his fiction, sometimes as recurring metaphors, and sometimes as characters. For example, Larry Chambers keeps dreaming about wolves in ""The Dream of the Wolf"" while his domestic situation deteriorates. One of the high points of this collection is a biography of a depressed, somewhat superior dog named ""Dazzle,"" who dislikes his owners (""The Canis familiaris utters a guttural diphthong, much like the Mandarin Chinese diphthong, only less enunciated,"" muses Dazzle when their six-year-old daughter insists, ""The little doggy go woof."") and eventually runs away in order to breed a family of his own. Even the purely human interactions often have something chillingly bestial about them, as in ""The Darling,"" in which Dolores Starr avenges herself on the men who abuse her by killing them. Bradfield takes chances with characters and points of view (delusional diaries appear in two stories, another is seen through the eyes of an apparently autistic child); but when he's at his cooly provocative best, the risk pays off. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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