Guess Again: Short Stories

Bernard Cooper, Author Simon & Schuster $21 (208p) ISBN 978-0-684-86586-7
This respected essayist's (Maps to Anywhere) fiction debut contains 11 exquisitely crafted stories, most previously published in such prestigious literary journals as Ploughshares, the Paris Review and the North American Review. Although many of the central characters are gay, the themes presented here are universal: love, loss, sexuality and aging parents, with the occasional specter of AIDS hovering on the periphery. Cooper handles all with compassion and bittersweet humor. In ""Hunters and Gatherers,"" a Mormon husband and his wife attempt to reconcile his bisexuality with their faith by holding a bizarre dinner party for the few gay people they know. ""What to Name the Baby"" finds Laura, young and unmarried, unexpectedly giving birth while traveling in a cramped Winnebago with her father, Frank, and his gay lover. One year later, Frank keeps a promise to show the baby the redwoods, but ""huddled in the midst of a green indifference,"" the baby is more interested in the loved ones gathered about her than the magnificent trees. In the opening story, ""Night Sky,"" a man dying of AIDS visits his ex-wife, who is under house arrest for vandalizing her new ex-husband's property. At the end, they forgo their problems of the present for the larger picture: ""But for now we lay back on a stranger's lawn, pointing to what we guessed were red dwarfs, stars formed long before the earth, their matter decaying so slowly it defies all measure of time."" Cooper's love for his characters is evident in their self-deprecating humor and the poetic imagery of his writing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-7432-4940-9
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4391-2946-3
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