cover image My Father, Dancing

My Father, Dancing

Bliss Broyard. Alfred A. Knopf, $22 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40060-5

The daughter of the late author and critic Anatole Broyard has written a collection that is partly about fathers and daughters, partly about the many difficult choices facing young women trying to find their place in life--and it has to be said that the former stories are more successful than the latter. The title story, particularly, is surely a barely fictionalized reminiscence of a man who wrote clear-sightedly of his own approaching death, and strikes a number of eloquently touching notes. ""The Trouble with Mr. Leopold"" tells of the conflicting demands made on an impressionable schoolgirl by a teacher and a father who are both manipulative in their different ways. ""At the Bottom of the Lake"" is about a girl desperately trying to preserve a cherished but irretrievable relationship in the face of an impossible stepmother. Several of the other stories, however, especially ""Ugliest Faces,"" ""Loose Talk"" and ""Snowed In,"" are sensitively observed but not very revealing accounts of women trying on roles for men friends and lovers, and the touch here is less sure; Broyard has some difficulty in ending her tales on an appropriately conclusive note, and too often they seem to stop in midair. Still, she has an assured style that usually carries her over the rougher spots, and is pleasantly free of the tough, show-off quality common to many younger short story writers. (Aug.)