Excitable Women, Damaged Men

Robert Boyers, Author . Turtle Point $15.95 (171p) ISBN 978-1-885586-40-7

The judgment Boyers (Salmagundi editor-in-chief) passes on his characters in the title of his first collection carries throughout the nine distanced, detached stories about the personal dilemmas of a series of troubled New Yorkers. In "An Excitable Woman," a grown son details the "principled unloveliness" of his elderly mother, who tests her family's love and loyalty with temper tantrums. Boyers offers a more elegiac—and condescending—take on female bitterness in "The French Lesson," about a young woman who leaves New York for Paris in the 1970s, but after a "twenty-year-long French experiment" that produces two children and an ex-husband, she is "as disappointed in the one place as in the other." In "Tribunal," Steve, a promiscuous young money manager, is outmaneuvered by Shula, a tough, divorced Israeli woman. Boyers cleverly captures how not only Shula's games but the cultural divide (Steve suffers an inferiority complex as one of the "uncircumcised") tantalize the young man. A young editor weathers the marital "thrust and parry and cut and slash and tear" of poet Robert Lowell and his wife, Caroline, in the contrived story "The Visit." Boyers writes with considerable authority, but his consistent lack of affection for his characters cools the collection. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
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