Ghost Traps: Stories

Robert Abel, Author University of Georgia Press $19.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1252-1
Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and author of Full-tilt Boogie and The Progress of a Fire , among other works, Abel has in these 12 stories demonstrated a finesse that will gladden the hearts of readers disenchanted with the flatness of the contemporary short story scene. From one unlikely scenario to another, Abel holds the reader's attention with the pacing of a seasoned raconteur. ``Appetizer'' epitomizes his fabulous technique: a solitary fisherman is menaced by a bear, and he must literally fish for his life in order to provide her with diversionary salmon. The increasing tension and drama of the narrative is offset by the laconic voice of the narrator who, we figure, must have survived to tell the tale. How he outwits the bear makes for a powerful and very funny yarn. Several of the other entries in the collection, widely varied in setting and tone, have as a common theme the binding ties of friendship between men, one of whom resents or envies the other. The title story exemplifies this concern in a wistful narrative about two lobster fishermen, one of whom seems to be stealing lobsters from the other's pots. The characters in all of these stories are distinguished by an ability to persevere in the face of potential chaos. Abel is a tremendously skilled writer and a first-rate storyteller in the timeless tradition of John Hersey. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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