Hearing from Wayne

Bill Franzen, Author Alfred A. Knopf $15.95 (127p) ISBN 978-0-394-55501-0
Franzen's highly entertaining debut is a collection of short short stories, most of which are reprinted from such journals as the New Yorker, Gentlemen's Quarterly and the National Lampoon. The 18 pieces are carefully crafted studies in whimsy and moments of truth, and all of them prompt a smile. Almost invariably, the characters are waiting for the ""right moment'' or the ``right person'' and as a result have put their lives on hold. The casual first-person style is deceptive, because few writers capture with such grace and precision the sloppiness of folksy speech and mannerisms. In the title story, the narrator receives a postcard from his best friend, written from beyond the grave; ``After I Won the Lottery'' concerns a man who has trouble giving away his money; ``37 Years'' is about a man whose doctor tells him he has only that exact number of years left to live and who brags about the heightened reality of his existence as a result. He vows to ``enjoy life, maybe drive to the bank, maybe take the long way.'' ``Mom and Pop Biz'' recounts every writer's nightmare: Mom and Pop start a magazine, ask Sonny for an article, then reject it, several times. Perhaps the funniest and most biting is ``Come Stay with Us,'' a collection of travel brochures for affordable vacations with the desperate farm families of ``beautiful Luling peninsula,'' one of which gushes: ``Don't be too surprised if the eldest ones in our brood want to entertain you on their motorized bikes.'' (March)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
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