Noble Rot: Stories 1949-1988

Richard Stern, Author Grove/Atlantic $22.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1056-5
Selected from three previous collections and from literary magazines, these 32 stories offer a rich assembly of uncommon characters, from a cartographer-poet to a bus driver, who are asking themselves roughly the same question about their lives: ``What . . . happened?'' As Stern ( Natural Shocks , Golk ) notes, ``Beyond human contrivance lay terrible blanks. Planetary schedules and galactic shifts, these bubbles of human dream could pop in a blink.'' Filling in the blanks, a graduate student in ``Troubles'' ponders her seclusion in an intellectual ghetto and her estrangement from her husband: ``I only know I'm bottled up. But is he the bottle or the bottler?'' (Or was ``the rodent life they led on the periphery of lofty mentality'' at fault?) Burdened by family battles, a middle-aged father wonders, ``Where had his tranquility, where had his life gone?'' Stern's stories reveal him as an exemplary collector of portraits from the human gallery: curious or notorious, respectable or bedraggled, specimens lure and reward his scrutiny. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-929968-30-8
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