Phone Rings

Stephen Dixon, Author . Melville House $14.95 (335p) ISBN 978-0-9761407-8-8

Dixon's 25th book of fiction takes up the themes of his recent novels I. and Old Friends —writerly vicissitudes, spousal care, New Deal-era New York City childhood—here serving as the backdrop for a story about male sibling bonds. After receiving a phone call telling him his older brother, Dan—his mentor, idol and closest friend—has died in a freak running accident, Stu Fine mourns their lives together. Ever the experimenter, Dixon tells Stu and Dan's story episodically, as if carefully scanning snapshots from an unordered box, in long associative paragraphs that slowly accumulate to complete a portrait of their relationship: Dan sticks up for teenage Stu, but disciplines him with a belt. He gets Stu, now out of college, his first good job as a reporter. After Stu's marriage, Dan listens to Stu's mania for his daughters' safety, advises him on what to do with his rickety car and offers sympathy for the challenges of caring for a handicapped wife. The tragic, early deaths of Stu's other siblings, his father's involvement in an abortion scandal (which resulted in a prison sentence and the enduring bitterness of his family) and Dan's adventures as a war correspondent during the Korean War complete the picture. This epic account of the life of a family ranks among Dixon's most ambitious novels. (Oct. 15)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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