The Goldin Boys: Stories

Joseph Epstein, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (221p) ISBN 978-0-393-03022-8
This ultimately uninspiring collection of nine stories marks essayist Epstein's ( A Line Out for a Walk ) debut as a writer of fiction. Cleanly and vividly written, the stories focus on Chicago and its men--academics, doctors, businessmen and athletes--with a special interest in the problems of success, be it athletic, financial, intellectual or romantic. In ``The Count and the Princess,'' a story that would have a Chekhovian ring were it not for its particular irony, a German count leads an aesthetically ordered life--nursing nostalgia for his fabulously aristocratic childhood in the old country--until he is wooed by a bubbly, if somewhat tacky divorcee, Sheila Skolnik. Is this love or ensnarement? The future of the proposed marriage is left in doubt. Here and elsewhere, the fiction's relaxed rhythms and exacting diction draw the reader on as compelling questions of love, loyalty and integrity are brought up but then discarded with a baldly sad ending or an ironic flourish. Given the collection's lack of resonance, a reader may feel bound by the author's moral assumptions rather than led toward revelation. A tone of self-conscious dejection, or cynicism, pervades Epstein's book, and absolutes, like love, health and ambition, are set up only to be ambiguously mocked. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 221 pages - 978-0-393-30918-8
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