Lonely Hearts, Changing Worlds

Robert Wintner, Author Permanent Press (NY) $24 (240p) ISBN 978-1-57962-028-8
Twin themes of sex and age pulse gamely through the heart of Witner's collection of 10 slyly winking short stories. Nagging sex drives and aging bodies fascinate the author, who, in a previous collection, Hagan's Trial and Other Stories, devoted himself to animal love. In ""Everything You Need to Know,"" 50-ish Barbara North seduces Ian Davidson, the lifeguard at her local pool who is ""leaning hard on eighteen."" One begins to admire the forthright and shapely Barbara, until her older lover, Sylvan Weidermeyer, gleans the truth about her dalliance with the youth and, out of sympathy for the older man, Barbara feels obliged to accommodate Sylvan sooner than she planned. The middle-aged narrator of the title story lives in Hawaii and has a yen for a ""native girl."" The recent murder of a white man by two locals for satisfying just this desire sends the randy diver to Fiji, where he meets 22-year-old Nita Nancy Vanivalau; a sweaty roll in the hay in her tin-roof shack fulfills the narrator's desire for an earthy Eve in Eden. Returning to Hawaii, he responds to Nita Nancy's repeated requests for money but, seemingly unaware of his callousness, buzzes her off when she suggests visiting him. In ""The Monk,"" a bizarre satire of professional wrestling, a 160-pound, 50-year-old man becomes a wrestling champ because of esoteric martial arts skills derived from his knowledge of pressure points. Lacking Tom Robbins's boyish charm or Richard Brautigan's manic creativity, Wintner's mimicked peevishness is sometimes as irritating as the real thing. He occasionally redeems himself with his keen eye for the mental wanderings of adolescent rakes. The publisher's pointed release of this title for Valentine's Day suggests an offbeat sense of humor. (Feb. 14)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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