The Sound of Writing

Alan Cheuse, Editor, Caroline Marshall, Editor, Richard Bausch, Introduction by Anchor Books $12 (239p) ISBN 978-0-385-41670-2
This anthology presents short stories read on National Public Radio's program The Sound of Writing , hosted by Cheuse and co-produced by Marshall. There is marvelous diversity in the subject matter of these stories, most of which were written for the show. John Updike writes of a dignitary's amused visit to a football factory (``We don't make policy here, we just make footballs,'' the company president jokes). Louise Erdrich describes the last hours of a thin North Dakota college boy and his plump parents, trapped in a car during a snowstorm. Roy Blount Jr. tells of a family's humiliation when their mama embarks on a career as a storyteller, baring family secrets to adoring audiences. But there are some clunkers among the 38 selections. Steve Amick's story about suburbanites in the early 1960s who fear that the bomb is about to drop is stilted and overblown (``Mr. Compton, Dora's hip history teacher . . . surveys the damage the missile crisis is wreaking on so many young, fragile minds''). And several pieces end abruptly and predictably, like Robert Dunn's tale of an Elvis-like singer, which concludes: ``What is the price for changing the world?'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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