cover image Paper Products: Stories

Paper Products: Stories

James W. Hall. W. W. Norton & Company, $18.95 (172pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02824-9

Fans of Hall's novels ( Tropical Freeze ) and poetry ( False Statements ) will have mixed reactions to the stories in this uneven collection. Writing for the most part about the alienated--teenagers, writers, drifters, an aged widow--Hall displays a light, sure touch with characterization that preserves idiosyncrasy while stopping short of caricature. The best tales are about adolescent boys. In ``Survival Week'' 17-year-old Connors spends the ritual final week of his last summer at camp not by himself in the woods but with another camper and a family that includes two teenaged girls. ``Miami Beach, Kentucky'' tells of a boy's conflicts with a powerful father, a mayor who wants to change his town's name from Sinking Fork to Miami Beach, and a mother who is principal of the boy's high school. More heavy-handed (and bitter) are the stories about poets. In ``The Electric Poet'' the eponymous hero colludes with the Famous Director of the Famous Writers Conference; ``Poetic Devices'' is told by a naive emigre poet. Though evocative of place, these works don't reflect the power evident in Hall's novels. ( Apr.)