David A. Taylor. Washington Writers' Publishing House, $15.95 (210pp) ISBN 978-0-931846-90-8
Set in locales as disparate as Bangkok, a Maryland racetrack, and a Moroccan village, these 14 lively tales by journalist Taylor (Ginseng) uncover gentle irony in the commonly held notion of a successful life. A son keen on pleasing his mother shows better skills at picking a winning horse than his ailing father in ""Pelagro."" A young student studying in Scotland in ""May Day"" rudely learns that because of his timidity (or is it honor?) he has lost the girl of his dreams to his more assertive best friend, while in ""Counterfeit,"" Alexa and Howard's vacation-of-a-lifetime in Nepal turns disastrous when Alexa gets sick and Howard realizes he would rather not go back to life as a safety officer for a nuclear power plant. ""Saigon Haircut"" proves a hilarious story about a laid-off flower-shop worker who finds that a different haircut motivates him in strange ways. Taylor's characters valiantly make a go of it, yet discover that effort often isn't good enough.
Reviewed on: 10/13/2008