cover image Skating in the Dark

Skating in the Dark

David Michael Kaplan. Pantheon Books, $19 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40517-7

Kaplan's ( Comfort ) elegant novel is constructed of a series of linked stories, a form that, in his deft handling, allows for shifts in perspective and time, and yields a particular richness of themes and variations. The book is divided into four sections of three stories each, with every story moving us ahead in time and understanding. We first meet Frank in 1951, when he is seven, growing up in a little town in western Pennsylvania and dreading piano lessons. We see him through adolescence and into a difficult marriage that comes apart. We leave him in 1990, a man in his 40s who finds himself fabricating a ``more redeemable'' version of an incident in his childhood as a means of soothing a distraught girlfriend. Along the way, as Kaplan lets us peer into Frank's past, we begin to see patterns and contexts for odd events and impulses. Frank's parents, whose influences tug and push at Frank as he grows older, are particularly well drawn. Kaplan neatly sidesteps muzzy nostalgia traps, and in fresh, inventive language evokes the sadness and longing of growing up and thinking back--the ``skating in the dark'' that we all must do. (Sept.)