Hell-Bent Men and Their Cities

Susan M. Dodd, Author Viking Books $17.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-82606-3
When Dodd ( Old Wives' Tales ; Mamaw ) is on target, her short stories plumb the depth of familial relations, grapple with the complexities of art and of love, and soar, in the end, into epiphany; but when she misses, her stories plod along and end with a whimper or dull thud. The problem with some of the 15 stories here seems to be one of authority; details just don't seem right and metaphors clunk. Dodd shows a real fondness for old people, whom she endows with beauty, vitality and sexuality, but when she assumes the point of view of an elderly Jewish man, a Talmudic scholar, credibility is strained. At her best, however, Dodd writes with elegance and compassion. In ``The Great Man Writes a Love Story,'' a famous writer ``grows magnanimous and witty with Courvoisier'' and researches love with his young Ph.D. assistant; an elderly widower bakes popovers for the woman next door when her son dies in ``I'm Right Over There''; two women who've never met eerily take on each other's characteristics, tormenting the man they're both in love with in ``Isometropia.'' Despite its lapses, the collection is well worth reading, the best of its stories affecting and memorable. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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