cover image YOU ARE NOT THE ONE


Vestal McIntyre, . . Carroll & Graf, $13.95 (325pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-1433-9

Carroll & Graf's cover copy claims that McIntyre "brings together the comic milieu of David Sedaris with the exquisite crafting of Alice Munro," and while McIntyre does offer quirky scenarios (teenage hoodlums kidnapping a kid in a kangaroo costume; a 40-something wife performing a cocaine-fueled interpretive dance for a roomful of younger strangers) and moments of subtle insight (though they are hardly Munrovian), what he delivers primarily is a kind of unharnessed intelligence and insufficiently edited creativity, which he demonstrates in a bumpy series of eight stories revolving around the need for love and acceptance, whether it is from a lover, oneself or one's pet octopus. In "Binge," cocaine-snorting Lynn attends a party, ruminates on her attraction to a younger woman, considers her annoyance at her husband and, after the aforementioned dance, finds redemption of a sort thanks to a subway preacher. As an attempt at poignancy, it falls flat; it reads like a sudden end-stop for a garrulous narrator. "Octo" is similarly challenged, as a boy must part with his beloved and now deceased pet octopus, and a roller-coaster ride serves to symbolically link him—in terror—with his nasty sister. "" and "Disability," which consider complicated relationships between young gay men and their associates, ring true, however; the latter especially points to McIntyre's promise. Agent, Mitchell Waters. (Jan.)