cover image Old Girlfriends

Old Girlfriends

David Updike, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-3

Author of the collection Out on the Marsh and several YA titles, a son of John returns with another collection that examines the many sides of romantic and familial love. In the title story, Trevor and his Holocaust-survivor psychotherapist, Sonya, are working together to help him get over his former girlfriend and to remain single for an extended period so that he can learn about his feelings toward women. “Love Songs from America” has an American father bringing his biracial son, Harold, to his wife's Kenyan homeland, underscoring the randomness of comfort and tragedy. “Adjunct” tells of an aimless instructor, Robert, who's looking for “that illicit spark of attraction that lent to the class a certain romantic undertone and, if nothing else, made the term go faster.” Though carefully observed, most of these stories suffer from a narrative passivity or abstract musing—“It was a relief to be outside again, and not have to look at her eyes, or keep up with the bantering, dangerous pace of her conversation”—that simply doesn't match the pacing and tone of the tales themselves. (July)