Private Acts: Short Stories

Robert Pope, Author Another Chicago Press $9.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-929968-10-0
These nine tales, which first appeared in the Iowa Review and other publications, demonstrate an impressive range of talents and genres--Pope seems equally comfortable reproducing the worldview of a ninth-century knight who experiences miracles (in ``The Passion of St. Edmund'') and exploring the metafictional significance of the concept of solitary confinement in ``Solitary,'' a story apparently inspired by the lonely contemplation of a single page from a dictionary. In ``The Dream of Childhood,'' he describes the hopes and shortfalls of a middle-class, Baptist boyhood through dreams that defy logical explanation, while other stories claim to be accurate accounts of past events. Yet despite Pope's accomplishments, readers may be left with a feeling of incompleteness. At the end of ``Flipcards,'' in which a boy parlays 50? worth of baseball cards into a brief lyrical triumph of youthful dreams over strict upbringing, the narrator asks, ``I have to leave you with an understanding of what this all means, don't I?'' Pope seems unsure how to answer this question; the stories in his first collection tend to string together memorable anecdotes or dream images without always arriving at wiser understandings. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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