Believe Them

Mary Robison, Author Alfred A. Knopf $15.95 (146p) ISBN 978-0-394-53942-3
Cool, carefully honed prose distinguishes the 11 stories in Robison's (An Amateur's Guide to the Night) new collection. As usual, she writes with a simplicity and directness that seem innocuous but actually allow startling phrases to leap out at the reader. Robison specializes in eccentric but engaging characters, whose personalities are revealed through whimsical dialogue. The nun in ""Trying,'' who suffers from giantism but who is able to communicate with her students on their level, the father in ``While Home,'' who spars affectionately with his children, the tart-tongued wife, mother and amateur sculptor in ``Again, Again, Again,'' who wryly gauges the limits of her husband's fidelity, are memorable characters. Their banter, however, often carries some hurtful truths. Robison is punctilious in immediately establishing each story's setting and, indeed, she seems determined to represent America coast to coast, including such cities as Providence, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana in her map of human frailties. But encountered in one sitting, the characters in these slice-of-life vignettes eventually acquire a zany, fast-talking sameness. For maximum effect, then, these tales should be read at intervals, so that Robison's ironic humor and antic outlook can achieve maximum impact. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 146 pages - 978-0-02-036380-4
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