Burgin, author of 11 books (including The Spirit of Returns) and publisher of Boulevard, dwells on the violence, and the humor, of misconnection in impressive detail. In ""Mayor Bat,"" a man picks up a drunken woman at a bar, takes her home, and proceeds to humiliate and terrorize her because she is ""addicted to humiliation,"" and he must change her behavior. ""The Second Floor"" features another sociopath in the form of a man obsessed by a young girl in a Philadelphia park, Abby, whom he probably killed; the second girl he picks up and takes home learns to look and act like Abby to please her keeper. In ""Vivian and Sid Break Up,"" Vivian does the leaving after 13 years, but feels galled by the prospect of Sid's dating another woman. The narrator of ""Robert and His Wife"" is a lonely man who befriends the charismatic Robert at a literary meeting, but finds double dating his fabulous ex-wife. The title story, set at a Florida conference on beauty that grows increasingly more confessional and bizarre, concludes this astute exploration-touched with satire-of emotional vacancy and its attendant brutality.
Reviewed on: 11/27/2006 Release date: 11/01/2006 Genre: Fiction