cover image Storytown: Stories

Storytown: Stories

Susan Daitch. Dalkey Archive Press, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-094-2

Daitch (The Colorist) has revised 15 stories previously published in journals promoting what some call the ""downtown aesthetic"" such as the Voice Literary Supplement and Bomb-and she's come up with a heady, self-consciously post-modern collection. She peddles the stock themes of the intellectual cutting edge, such as the impossibilities of artistic originality, of separating fact from fiction, of understanding the self as an essence. In ""Doubling,"" for example, Claudia's Italian cousin Pierra moves into her Manhattan apartment and starts an art-forgery business, while Claudia, a courtroom artist, finds herself participating. ""Scissors and Rocks"" is a clever exercise in combining real statements from Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin with Daitch's fictionalized account of their conversations. The title story, about a young woman working in a Disneyland-type literary amusement park, suggests a political message about American insularity. Daitch's characters-often solitary women-lead lives of isolation and incoherence (although most seem unruffled by this: ""Now I look at words as isolated catatonic patients in a state hospital whose funds have been cut off... there is no longer any relationship between sound and meaning""). These stories are smart, even cerebral, in their treatment of the constant entanglement of written language, visual art and philosophy, but the nonstop alienation can be a tad tiresome. (Apr.)