David Benioff, Author . Viking $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-03339-3

Benioff is on a roll. His first novel, the crime drama The 25th Hour , was made into a critically acclaimed film directed by Spike Lee. He also wrote the screenplay for the summer blockbuster Troy . In his latest project, an octet of thoughtful short stories, he takes it down a notch from those high-profile projects, but he definitely doesn't rest on his laurels. The book begins with the title story, about a jaded hipster record executive who is trying to steal a talented and sexy young singer away from a small label. It's a tautly told tale with a wonderfully evil edge. Hip is hard to do, but Benioff can pull it off, as when the reader follows the protagonist into a series of increasingly restricted VIP rooms: "Tabachnik had been places with four progressively-more-exclusive areas, where the herds were thinned at each door by goons with clipboards, turning away the lame." Like a lot of great short stories, it leaves you wanting to continue on with the characters to see where they end up. The other seven stories in the collection are a varied lot, ranging from the tale of a young soldier grappling with the moral complications of having to execute an elderly woman to a drama about a lovesick young man's decision to secretly scatter his girlfriend's father's ashes. The stories are offbeat, but not overly obtuse, and each one is driven by fully formed characters. This is a superb collection, and it proves that Benioff can handle the long and the short of the fiction game. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Aug. 28)

Reviewed on: 07/05/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-340-89562-7
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-17629-0
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-17737-2
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-452-28664-1
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