Richard Powers, Introduction by, Paris Review, Created by , intro. by Richard Powers. Picador $15 (386p) ISBN 978-0-312-42240-0

In his introduction to this rewarding anthology, critically acclaimed author Powers (Galatea 2.2 ; Plowing the Dark ; etc.) says that reading is the "last refuge from the real-time epidemic." To that end, the selections gathered here are grouped by how long they offer escape from real time: waiting rooms need long stories, for example, while elevators demand poems. Roth, Munro and Naipaul are among the 46 big-name contributors. In the Planes section, Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey" riffs on the love lives of two pool table installers. In T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Greasy Lake" (Trains), three "bad" 19-year-olds ("We read André Gide and struck elaborate poses to show we didn't give a shit about anything") looking for trouble cruising in the narrator's mother's Bel Air find it at the eponymous lake. In Elevators, Deborah Warren's poem "Airplane" strikes a timely, nervous note: "Now, as you board the airplane, is there latent/ in its thorax—nestled near the spine—/ some wiring awry, a hose not tightened?/ Embolisms inching up the fuel line?" And among the longer stories in the Waiting Rooms section is one of Rick Moody's best, "Mansion on the Hill," which follows Andrew Wakefield from the job of shilling drumsticks in a chicken costume to packaging the middle-class sublime in the wedding planning business. While many of these stories will be familiar to well-read fans of literary fiction, the collection proves again the strengths of the Paris Review —what other small magazine could so casually present such literary gold from merely sifting through its back issues? (July 1)

Forecast: Issued only a year after The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953 (Picador), this new volume may find itself competing with the former collection—it already loses out on title length.

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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