cover image The Final Fate of the Alligators: Stories from the City

The Final Fate of the Alligators: Stories from the City

Edward Hoagland / Author Capra Press $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-884

Hoagland ( The Tugman's Passage ) is best known as an essayist and travel and nature writer, but he is also an accomplished fiction writer, as this collection of early stories attests. These seven short stories and one brief essay are, he says in the introduction, ``modest efforts from the 1960s,'' a typically self-effacing description of tales that are anything but apprentice work. The stories are a vivid reflection of the barely controlled violence of that turbulent era, a collection of explosions muted by his protagonists' inability to connect with other people except by the most indirect means. Already Hoagland shows a keenly observant eye and ear, catching the fractious rhythms of New York's teeming streets, from Coney Island, with its variegated mass of humanity, to the Lower East Side, with ``churches in eight languages'' and ``a spicing of danger a young man likes.'' Lovers of New York will read this volume with particular relish; as a bittersweet archeology of a long-dead city, these stories perform the same service for New York that Hoagland's nature writing does for endangered species, reminding us of felicities lost in felicitous prose. (Apr.)