My California Friends, and Other Stories

Natalie A. McKelvy, Author Dunery Press $8.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-944771-01-3
Three stories by the author of Where's Ours? tell of the boring, depressing lives of unaware and basically passive people, such as recently retired Max Kessler who abandons his wretched family in a futile attempt to infuse meaning into his existence, only to end up hustling ping-pong at senior-citizen centers and boozing at topless bars on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Although ``Limp and Lifeless,'' a novella, more successfully engages the reader with its portrait of a plucky widow caught in unfamiliar surroundings, this volume is, for the most part, a disappointing patchwork of meandering, forgettable accounts marked by plodding writing and characters. In addition, McKelvy's blue-collar workers are unfailingly labeled black, Hispanic, Latino or ``coolies.'' In the kitchen of the hotel where the widow Nancy Fechtwalter of ``Limp and Lifeless'' works, ``small, dirty men with dark or yellow skins ran among the stoves and pots, but without direction,'' and Nancy's friend Ellen's neighborhood ``was up-and-coming, but it hadn't come up yet: the streets were filled with Puerto Ricans . . . .'' (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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