Prayer and Parable

Paul Maliszewski. Fence (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-934200-44-5
A collection of 28 odd, captivating stories, Maliszewski's skillful latest (after essay collection Fakers) highlights his ability for creating arresting tales out of ordinary situations. From a boy's discovery of a dead coyote in 1970s Louisiana ("Prayer for What Will Be Revealed") to the story of a father who overlooks his sons for his inventions ("Prayer for the Long Life of Certain Inanimate Objects"), Maliszewski's expansive imagination and dry delivery give these pieces the feel of being tales from a dimension slightly off from ours. The stories extend in length from less than a page to 50 pages (as with the especially excellent "Prayer for What They Said and They Were Not Told"), giving the collection a wide-open feel—ambitious, but not overwhelming—as Maliszewski works with sometimes disarming themes (dead and dying animals, grandmothers, Marco Polo, troubling dreams). Granted, some of the shorter works feel too minor, like the seed of a larger idea jotted in a notebook, but the overall effect isn't unlike flipping through the snapshots of a stranger's vacation: you might not know what's going on all the time, but if you allow yourself that indulgence, it's easy enough to enjoy the view. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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