Always Home and Other Stories

David Ely, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (230p) ISBN 978-1-55611-258-4
Ely ( Time Out ) offers 18 stories that begin suspensefully, hold the reader's attention with simple sentences and avalanche progression and, just as revelation seems at hand, fall victim to unsatisfying conclusions. These finales, calculated to shock or to sadden, often involve death or departure. ``The Squirrel,'' the tale of an acrobat's vertiginous climb of a sequoia and his joyous discoveries upon reaching the top, ends predictably, while the claustrophobic ``Going Backward,'' in which a group of young people choosing to live by 19th-century means is overrun by curious tourists, suffers for its melodramatic end. Ely proves adept at evoking nostalgia--time's passage is affectingly depicted in ``Indiana Summer''--but can become maudlin, as in ``Old Flame,'' the meeting of a successful, disillusioned woman and her unambitious, content former college sweetheart. Humor marks ``The Language Game,'' in which a language expert employs pig latinstet.eed to defeat his brilliant nemesis in a test of linguistic knowledge, and ``A Middle-Aged Nude,'' an ironic jab at art and art criticism. While Ely's concepts are unquestionably strong and diverse, the collection is flawed by a repetitive plot formula. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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