All You Can Eat: Stories

Robin Hemley, Author, Anne Rumsey, Editor Atlantic Monthly Press $7.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-87113-261-1
These 13 stories reveal Hemley ok?next sentence starts with In/pk as a mostly promising, occasionally disappointing, new talent. In the disturbing ``The Mouse Town,'' Danny and Mitch, ``the only kids at Pitman Elementary School with dead Dads,'' construct increasingly elaborate and dangerous tortures for Danny's pet mice. And in the provocative ``Installations,'' a Chicago El conductor takes up with a performance artist, and gradually erodes the boundaries between acting and reality. In these tales and several others, Hemley manages to capture, in a clever and compelling way, small quirky illuminations in the lives of ordinary people. Elsewhere, unfortunately, he gathers disparate elements into a trivial, unmemorable conglomerate where forced analogies abound: in ``Polish Luggage,'' the narrator's mother inappropriately blinks in the sun ``like someone who's just emerged from a cave after years of reclusiveness.'' When Hemley attempts a slick and trendy style, his work lacks substance and meaning. When he ventures further, readers sample stories that are true and brave. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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