cover image Voices Louder Than Words, V 2: A Second Collection

Voices Louder Than Words, V 2: A Second Collection

. Vintage Books USA, $11 (322pp) ISBN 978-0-679-73429-1

This volume, the second brought out to benefit the nonprofit organization Share Our Strength, includes previously unpublished stories donated by Andre Dubus, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jane Smiley and John Edgar Wideman. The works are uniformly competent and well-crafted, but stand-outs include Robert Boswell's ``The Products of Love,'' a seductive unfolding of love and marriage gone awry; Roberta Silman's ``Tightrope,'' a tender, unsparing account of a middle-aged woman attending to the dying of her former literature professor; and Norman Lavers's stunning adventure tale of sorts, ``The Wrecker,'' a perfect imitation of mid-19th-century fiction. The less successful pieces tend toward the gimmicky; while clever, they remain emotionally flat. Ron Carlson's ``On the U.S.S. Fortitude '' is about a homeless mother and children relocated to a military ship; in Scott Russell Sanders's ``Harm's Reach,'' a young man has a relationship with a computer-generated woman. But overall, Louder Than Words 's works manage to capture a powerful and admirable balance of toughness and delicacy. Shore is executive director of Share Our Strength, which fights hunger and homelessness. (Nov.)