Traplines: Stories

Eden Robinson, Author Owl Books (NY) $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4446-1
Consisting of three short stories and one novella-length piece, Canadian writer Robinson's uninspired debut focuses on teenage angst and violently dysfunctional families. In the title story, a young man must avoid the brutal attentions of his older brother, who is in turn abused by their father. ""Seven and Counting,"" about a young girl whose mother is a serial killer, fails to provide much depth to its tabloid scenario. The long story, ""Contact Sports,"" in which a wealthy older cousin simultaneously terrorizes and financially supports a teenage boy, does build to some genuine menace but fails to give its sadistic villain adequate motivation. The more fragmentary ""Queen of the North,"" about a girl who's been sexually abused by her uncle, shows a touch of stylistic flair, though it too offers no new insights. While her work has a certain raw energy, Robinson's material is both familiar and sensationalistic, lacking the gifts of characterization and voice that allowed books like Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina or Jayne Anne Phillips's Black Tickets to mine similar material so effectively. 25,000 first printing; author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-676-97026-5
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-307-36394-7
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