cover image The Point: Stories

The Point: Stories

Charles D'Ambrosio. Little Brown and Company, $19.95 (243pp) ISBN 978-0-316-17144-1

D'Ambrosio makes his literary debut with a collection of short stories as fluid and compelling as a river rushing into darkness. Though many of the selections repeat similar characters and situations--failing relationships, pilgrimages to the site of a suicide, uncommunicative, alcoholic fathers--together they are like a room full of mirrors, each story reflecting (or magnifying or distorting) an aspect of another. In the title piece, one of 13-year-old Kurt Pittman's chores is to escort safely home his mother's drunken, crisis-beset party guests. Gifted with an understanding of other people beyond his years, the boy remarks, ``The idea was this--that at a certain age, a black hole emerged in the middle of your life... and you pretended it wasn't there and never looked directly at it, if you could manage the trick.'' Unfortunately, few of D'Ambrosio's characters can manage the trick. Some of them, numbed by alcohol and the rainy coldness of the Pacific Northwest, think God might be the way out of their private emotional hells. But it is those who persevere who eventually reap rewards--as will readers of these seven dreamy and engrossing tales. (Feb.)