cover image A Place I've Never Been: 2stories

A Place I've Never Been: 2stories

David Leavitt, Author Viking Books $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-82196-9

With this new collection of short fiction, Leavitt writes with increased authority and range about love and loss within families and among gay and straight couples, territory claimed before in Family Dancing and Equal Affections . Set in Italy, both the rhythmic, rounded ``I See London, I See France'' and the ably orchestrated ``Roads to Rome'' feature a visiting American observing the uninhibited interaction of sophisticated and somewhat decadent Italian families through the filter of the protagonist's conventional, constrained values. Another outsider, but on the move, is Celia, narrator of the title story, unattached to any person or thing except Nathan, who is gay and has been her best friend since college. When he leaves for Europe, she gets a makeover at Bloomingdale's, begins to date a man at work and finds herself, on Nathan's return, unwilling to give him the same self-abnegating support she'd accorded him before. Fidelity and betrayal are explored in ``My Marriage to Vengeance'' and the perfectly shaped ``Houses''; grief and recovery animate the antic, affectionate ``Spouse Night.'' In its final paragraphs, ``Chips Is Here'' turns its funny, antagonistic pet-owners scenario upside down with a piercing evocation of constancy. 35,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)