Random Stories

James Laughlin, Author Moyer Bell $18.95 (207p) ISBN 978-1-55921-029-4
Laughlin--poet, essayist, founder of New Directions--shows himself as a master of the situational slice of life in these 12 stories. In ``This Is My Blood,'' the clipped dialogue and antiseptic style increase the visceral impact, giving this story of a steelworker's visit to his dying father a universal import. ``What the Butler Heard'' is a droll portrait of an eavesdropping butler, a petty thief with a hopeless crush on his boss's daughter. Many situations are left unresolved: a fashionable Parisian man of letters feels stifled by his overprotective mother and his bullying girlfriend (```Partial Eclipse''); a world-class skierper big Web , his career derailed by an accident, reminisces in a hospital bed (``Looking Across at the Silvretta'').sp ok The dated ``A Natural History,'' first published in the Harvard Advocate in the 1930s, describes a party on a Florida beach that ends with turtle eggs and racial insults being hurled at residents of ``Blackland''; contemporary readers will find its social criticism muted and weak. Laughlin is a word-pointillist, assembling seemingly casual details into authentic, if somewhat narrow canvases. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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