cover image Self-Portraits: Fictions

Self-Portraits: Fictions

Frederic Tuten, Norton, $23.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-393-07905-0

Inspired by the stories the author read to his possibly illiterate Sicilian grandmother as a child, these nested narratives are told by couples traveling through hallucinatory, romantic landscapes. As the traveler in "Self Portrait with Sicily" rides a train through the Bronx, boundaries between worlds, geography, and generations blur, transporting him through Sicily and the rural landscape of his Nonna. On a honeymoon in Spain, the narrator of "Self Portrait with Bullfight" decides that "forbearance" is the key to a lasting marriage and proceeds to try the patience of his new bride with a long-winded tale of the "frisson of rivalry" between two youths vying for the attentions of a Gypsy woman. In "Self Portrait with Cheese," an allegory about a family of bears that flees the circus only to languish, bored, in their freedom, offers a convoluted fable about the needs of artists. Tuten's (The Green Hour) polished stories of beauty, longing, and loss are relatable, yet strange enough that they constantly pique. (Sept.)