Where the Road Bottoms Out: Stories

Victoria Redel, Author Alfred A. Knopf $20 (171p) ISBN 978-0-679-42071-2
Redel's stories connect locations on past and present emotional maps as she relates tales of family life among Russian immigrants and their American-born children. The perspectives are mostly those of mothers and daughters; the prose is bare-bones and dark-edged. Sometimes Redel seems to be straining to shock or to impress, or to be poignant. In ``My Little Pledge of Us,'' she writes of a trio of first-generation American sisters bewildered by the insecurities of their father, who says they will never be Americans. One of them protests, ``We have no accents. We eat burgers with catsup, dogs with mustard.... One sister watches for interest rates to plunge.'' Redel writes with great rhythm and force, however, particularly when fitting her language to anger, as in ``Avenge! Avenge!,'' in which Wall Street traders swap some verbal swagger worthy of David Mamet: ``You don't have to have a life worth a dime for some smartass to make a dime on it. You don't have to be nothing to make something out of a bunch of nothing assholes willing to crap away their lives hoping to become bigger assholes.'' While the decibel level of the writing is sometimes too high for these 17 small stories, Redel has an intriguing, yeasty voice. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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