Thank You for Being Concerned and Sensitive

Jim Henry, Author University of Iowa Press $20 (152p) ISBN 978-0-87745-610-0
Drawn in rapid dry-point strokes, the characters in this Iowa Short Fiction Award-winning collection are a motley bunch of thoroughly contemporary oddballs and rogues: trust-fund alcoholics and struggling immature couples, epistemologically challenged legislators and dead dads returned to taunt sexually repressed moms, child-voyeurs and copy-shop Samaritans. Henry adores finely calibrated ironies, which means that when he's good, he's terrific (in the Award citation, judge Ann Beattie compares him to Donald Barthelme); but when he's off, his overly oblique epiphanies feel as if they should come with footnotes. This drawback is especially evident in ""Jesus,"" the collection's lost-in-Manhattan tale: rather than conclude, the story quietly wipes out, cheapening the dread with which Henry has labored to suffuse matters. Much better are the girl-boy sketches that take up the bulk of these dozen tales. ""The Earthling!"" unites conspiracy theories with social critique to delightful effect. ""Mouthfeel""--the collection's standout--abandons workshop pyrotechnics for the careful accumulation of details, in this case details of a marriage's premature decay. Henry is a bracing satirist whose offbeat take on our culture is refreshing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 148 pages - 978-1-58729-107-4
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