cover image The People I Know

The People I Know

Nancy Zafris. University of Georgia Press, $24.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-8203-1192-0

The recipient of a Flannery O'Connor Award, Zafris debuts here with a collection of nine stories narrated by characters whose lives take place around those of other people. In ``Morning at the Beach,'' an elderly vacationer sits placidly on her Miami hotel porch, plotting wild crimes. ``Final Weeks'' is a woman's wistful recollection of a kindred soul she met years ago in Japan, an oppressed mother of three who had never been kissed. In ``The Metal Shredders'' we are privy to the surprising and desperate thoughts of a man who runs an automobile junkyard. ``From Where I Sit,'' the stand-out in this collection, is told in the voice of a teenager forced to wear leg braces. The story reverberates with the particular wit and unease of a girl who suspects ``that warm regard and gratitude were my province, and that the more alarming passions would not be mine.'' Frequently funny, these tales are threaded with a dark despair. Zafris has a keen ear for a great variety of voices, so much so that at times the narrative takes on the tone of mimicry. She is very good at this, but readers may hope that she will develop a voice with more depth and breadth: her own. (May)