cover image HONEYMOON: And Other Stories

HONEYMOON: And Other Stories

Kevin Canty, HONEYMOON: And Other StoriesK. , $21 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-385-49161-7

The distinctive, idiosyncratic voices of antiheroes floundering in a world dissolving around them distinguish the 11 tersely lyrical stories of Canty's second short story collection. At the beginning of "Aquarium," 38-year-old Olive is in Seattle visiting her nephew who has been caught once again using heroin. They continue an affair, though Olive knows better. "[S]he can practically recite from therapy: It's OK to have this feeling... it's never OK to act." This, Olive thinks, is the secret of adult life, "the secret to OKness." The most successful stories here are about characters, like the protagonist of Canty's novel Into the Great Wide Open, who are painfully learning that being an adult requires pretense. In "Flipper," a fat kid escapes from fat camp and meets a pregnant teenager whose gift of chocolate provokes a larger hunger in him. In "Carolina Beach," Vincent, divorced, and Laurie, dying of cancer, go to a seaside resort seeking a respite from lives in which affection is something read about in a magazine. "Red Dress" is narrated by an 11-year-old who is tired of listening to "the oceanic hubbub below" at his parents' frequent parties and promotes himself to bartender. Then he gets that predictable unbidden glimpse and understands the "assertion of normalcy" behind his mother's casual, dry kisses on the top of his head. Cool, quick and brutal, these stories gives the lie to the heavy realities they chronicle, swooping deftly along a well-honed razor's edge. (Apr.)