cover image The School of Love: Short Stories

The School of Love: Short Stories

Phyllis Barber. University of Utah Press, $14.95 (113pp) ISBN 978-0-87480-337-2

Barber's best stories are cleverly compacted; her worst, most glaringly three short-shorts, for all their magic realism, are dated and simplistic. In ``Silver Dollars'' a daughter learns to accept her father's costly lack of ambition, while ``Tangles'' portrays a young woman who seeks her identity in a preoccupied father's eyes. The fa ther in ``Oh, Say, Can you See?'' takes his family to observe a nuclear test blast.too many story Right!sss In ``Baby Birds'' a mother tries to connect with her drugged-out son. While ``Criminal Justice'' turns from relentless to cheapshot on the false detail of a jailed woman allowed numerous phone calls, ``Love Story for Miriam,'' about a parasitically dependent great-aunt, resonates. Though quality is uneven and many of Barber's characters seem more symbolic than real, her first collection contains memorable moments: the image of sunlight feeding on a rug's flowered wool; a child in a ``scratch and bite nursery school.'' (Mar.)