cover image Between Camelots

Between Camelots

David Harris Ebenbach, . . Univ. of Pittsburgh, $24 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-8229-4268-9

Ebenbach captures the anxious musings of characters in transition in this debut collection of 15 stories, many focusing on younger male protagonists who find themselves adrift in the wake of romantic failures. In the title story, a lonely young man whose nights are marked by "masturbation, sighing journal entries, and then... bed" goes to a party hoping to meet a particular girl, but instead encounters a pretzel-noshing pseudo-philosopher who posits that in life, one is always moving from one false Camelot to the next, and that only fools keep seeking interpersonal bonds. The recently dumped, morose Oberlin grad of "Getting Back onto Solid Foods" returns to his college town for a vegetarian Thanksgiving with old friends, while the confused narrator of "Rebbetzin" feels awkward at a memorial service for his wife's former art professor. Ebenbach does a fine job of exploring his characters' longing for connection—between brother and troubled sister in "Pointing Up"; between a young teacher and his students (and his brand-new girlfriend) in "Social Games"—but his emphasis on interior monologue dampens the stories' power. (Oct.)