Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle: A Book of Stories

Ellen Gilchrist, Author Little Brown and Company $17.95 (204p) ISBN 978-0-316-31318-6
Although several stories in Gilchrist's ( The Anna Papers ) latest collection are distinguished by her old magic--they have energy and gusto and humor, and a dark layer of knowledge beneath their nostalgiac tone--too many of them seem self-indulgent and self-referential, as though Gilchrist is writing only for readers familiar with her established characters. So although we are glad to read the three tales that harken back to the shared childhoods of Rhoda, Dudley and Saint John, the fourth, ``Mexico,'' in which they are jaded adults, is a disappointment. (Much married and divorced, Rhoda, who once was so fascinating, seems tasteless and self-absorbed.) Nora Jane returns in the title story and two others, and these are vivified by the debut of a new character, Lin Tan Sing, a Chinese medical student and geneticist who has analyzed Nora's amniocentesis, and predicts the futures of her unborn twins; in one of the stories, Nora gives birth to the twins in gory detail. In two other tales, unfortunately histrionic and foolishly sentimental, Barrett Clare discovers her real mother. Gilchrist's stylistic ticks--several of her characters quote Matthew Arnold, and nearly all are obsessed with the color yellow--become somewhat exasperating in a writer with talent to burn. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 212 pages - 978-0-316-31312-4
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