Skin: Stories

C. E. Poverman, Author Ontario Review Press $19.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-86538-076-9
Unsettling ambiguities characterize the determinist, chaotic, often violent world depicted in this powerful collection of 11 short stories by the author of My Father in Dreams. In the title story, a woman recalls her brief but intense affair with a marine who survived two tours of duty in Vietnam unscathed; in fact, she is attracted to him by the beauty and smoothness of his skin. But when mysterious razor slashes leave Lewis's body as scarred as his psyche, it emerges that the marine has not told his lover the truth and may not know it himself; she, too, has had a glimpse of the person she might be. Other tales are similarly haunting, such as The Man Who Died, which recounts both sides of a sexual assault case. Exploring such themes as male sexuality, addictive and codependent behavior, the rights of the mentally ill and new love among old friends, the stories all hit the mark with their depictions of characters who are devious, gullible, confused, quirky and even insane, but never unreal. Poverman's habit of recycling background material and names from tale to tale keeps the reader off balance and adds to an atmosphere in which things are seldom what they seem. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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