Graywolf Annual Four: Short Stories by Men

Scott Walker, Author, Scott Walker, Editor Graywolf Press $7.5 (224p) ISBN 978-1-55597-103-8
Walker, who also edited the three previous Graywolf short-story annuals, has compiled a skillful but bleak collection, keenly evocative of the desperation and devastation wrought by machismo, and which, except for the odd bright ray, is suffused with death, violence and emotional trauma. From William Kittredge's incestuous Lone Ranger in ""Phantom Silver'' to the war-hardened Army grunt in Tim O'Brien's ``The Things They Carried,'' the male protagonists of these mostly previously published stories are a lonely, disaffected lot. Tobias Wolff's ``The Other Miller'' is an emotionally stunted G.I. who punishes his mother when she ``crosses'' him by remarrying. The narrator of ``How I Found My Brother'' by Charles Baxter is a violent alcoholic whose marriage has recently splintered. The marriages in ``Menudo'' by Raymond Carver, ``Clearance'' by David Long and ``Dogsong'' by Frederick Busch are on the rocks as well. In the last, repellent descriptions of starving, mistreated dogs are interspersed with the adulterous protagonist's reflections on his suicide attempt. ``Great Falls'' by Richard Ford begins: ``This is not a happy story. I warn you.'' What follows is a detailed rendition of the dissolution of the narrator's parents' marriage, and his father's outrageous behavior. A lone gentle note is struck by ``Chopin in Winter'' by Stuart Dybek, a poignant recollection of apartment life among Eastern Europeans in WW II-era Chicago. (March)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
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