cover image To Skin a Cat

To Skin a Cat

Thomas McGuane / Author Dutton Books $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-52

This collection of 12 stories seems to prove once more that McGuane is a writer who lacks consistency. When he is good, he is very good; at other times he can be underpowering. Some of these tales are highly interesting, imbued with power and the ability to startle; in others, McGuane seems to be coasting, failing to deliver the bite that makes the difference between a good and a great story. The title narrative, the last in the collection, has that bite. The tale of a jaded young man who aspires to become a pimp, it teeters on the edge of the bizarre until it finally crosses over. Another story, ""The Millionaire,'' exhibits a delicious tension as the parents of a pregnant teenager await the arrival of the child whose adoption has already been arranged as a sort of birth of convenience. Taken as a whole, the collection is entertaining, sometimes memorable. (October 14)