The Cardiff Team: Ten Stories

Guy Davenport, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $24.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1335-6
At their best, the 10 stories in this collection merge sensual matters with bookish ones and achieve a kind of intellectual eroticism. ""Boys Smell Like Oranges,"" for instance, intercuts sections of teenage athletes basking in the afterglow of a soccer game with two elderly scholars walking in the same park and chatting about Kierkegaard and the wellsprings of beauty. Intellectual figures are often characters: Franz Kafka takes a cure at a spa in ""The Messengers."" More common, however, are stories about young men and precocious boys pretending to some Greek ideal of Eros. Two linked stories concern a licentious Boy Scout troop leader and his frisky charges; and the long title story is driven by sexual confusion among a mother, her new boyfriend, her 12-year-old son and his two best friends (one of whom is a child cross-dresser). With his young protagonists, Davenport (A Table of Green Fields) seems to be pointing toward some sort of Rousseauvian childhood ideal gone polymorphously perverse. The boyfriend in ""The Cardiff Team,"" in fact, neatly gives voice to the author's essential concern when he recalls that, as a child, he learned that ""finding out about what's in books and the world and feeling great in my pants were cooperative."" Unfortunately, Davenport is too wrapped up in this notion to bother making the kids at all childlike. Instead of playful experimenters, these children are experts at life and all its nuances, using words like ""lacunarity."" While Davenport's intellectual curiosity is rampant, and his store of literary allusions endless, the cumulative effect of all this cerebral sex-play is coolly alienating.(Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-8112-1770-5
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