AN AMBULANCE IS ON THE WAY: Stories of Men in Trouble

Jonathan Wilson, Author . Pantheon $21 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-42210-2

Medical crises bring modest epiphanies in a collection of 11 lightly comic, contemplative stories by the author of A Palestine Affair . In "Mini-Joe," a man who believes he has a serious heart ailment calls an old ex-girlfriend; a humorously poignant conversation ensues before he learns it was a false alarm and vows to become a better man. In "Dead Ringers," a man with prostate problems and a crotchety mother finally goes to tend the grave of a brother who died in infancy. The title story is the most fully articulated rendering of the motif, as an MRI prompts a man to conduct a thorough re-examination of his life. Unavoidably, the conceit wears thin, as the stories range from thoughtful and moving to fragmented and ironic. But Wilson also plumbs the middle-aged Jewish male psyche through different routes: "Tosh" puts the spotlight on a Mallorca drug dealer and womanizer who is set up for a bust by one of his dates; "Fat Twins" observes a father's attempt to connect with his teenage son on a trip to Jamaica. "Fundamentals," a highlight of the collection, tells of its female American narrator's seduction by a British Jew and her subsequent discovery of his true identity. Wilson is a deft, subtle writer who often neatly turns the tables on his protagonists to reveal the surprising inside the mundane. (Feb. 15)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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