cover image A Model World and Other Stories

A Model World and Other Stories

Michael Chabon. William Morrow & Company, $18.95 (207pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09553-6

An exceptional collection of short stories follows Chabon's well received debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh . These subtly ironic tales have a brevity and clarity that allows Chabon's bittersweet observations to hit home. Understatement is Chabon's talent; using words economically, he deftly creates believable situations made remarkable by underlying twists of motivation and behavior. His vivid characters share the need to feel accepted and loved by others. In ``S Angel'' Ira, a drama student at UCLA, attends his favorite cousin Sheila's wedding and falls for a party guest named Carmen--an abrasive, unstable woman who is unresponsive to his flirtations. It's as much a surprise to the reader as to Ira when he realizes his true affections for Sheila. The unpredictability of love surfaces again in the dryly witty ``Ocean Avenue,'' in which Bobby Lazar, an architect in Laguna Beach, runs into his ex-lover, Suzette, a painfully thin exercise fanatic, and finds he can't suppress his indefinable feelings for her, despite the chaos they bring to each other's lives. Chabon's characters manage to find joy amidst disappointment, and thus a sense of purpose. (Apr.)