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David Crouse, Author University of Georgia Press $24.95 (238p) ISBN 978-0-8203-2746-4
This mixed bag comprises an impressive extended piece of fiction and seven uneven short stories. In ""Click,"" the well-developed long story, an emotionally scarred photographer threatens his relationship with his fiance while working on a documentary about a prostitute with whom he becomes involved. The shorter stories feature more distant protagonists who often fight themselves as they work through personal or professional dilemmas. ""Code"" follows a corporate drone trying to interpret the signals of impending layoffs and business failure in his dying company's final days. ""The Ugliest Boy"" offers a twisted view of adolescent romance as a handsome boy who was once raped by two men struggles to date a beautiful rich girl while her brother, a disfigured and deeply damaged burn victim, looks on as an unusually interested observer. In ""Crybaby,"" a young man realizes that the book he wrote, based on people from his childhood, has irrevocably altered his relationships when he returns to his old neighborhood. While each of the shorter stories has considerable charm, the longer piece gives Crouse enough space to slowly develop complex characters and a compelling plot while many of the central figures in the shorter pieces remain shadowy. Crouse's fluency with the darker sides of the average human life, however, makes this a promising, though inconsistent, debut.
Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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