Discovering America: Stories

Liza Wieland, Author Random House (NY) $20 (268p) ISBN 978-0-679-42459-8
Bittersweet, intoxicating language infuses Wieland's ( The Names of the Lost ) first collection of short stories. Though at first glance these 10 tales appear to be nearly naive depictions of contemporary life, they are in fact bound together by a dense net of sophisticated wordplay: images, metaphors and allusions recur, giving the narrative the emotional pull of dream logic. A deadpan sense of humor makes its presence known as well. In ``Called By Name,'' a woman recalls driving west in her truck: ``I was learning Spanish from Berlitz tapes. Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat! the plastic tape cases said. All I had to do was Speak Spanish Like a Librarian! I wondered what the difference was, and I still do.'' Wryly romantic, ``Aisle Help'' stars a matchmaker and marriage specialist on the run from matrimony. ``Tommy Wadell'' and ``Who It Really Was,'' both set in Atlanta, revolve around teenage girls' doomed relationships with boys their parents are sure to disapprove of. Grief, love and sexuality fairly blaze from the pages of ``Lessons and Carols,'' the wrenching, intricately wrought account of a teenager coming to terms with the aftermath of her father's death. The collection sweeps to a close with the title story, an ambitious, meticulously constructed meditation on such seemingly disparate topics as passion, whales and mapmaking. Playful, challenging and heartfelt, these stories offer many discoveries to savor. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
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