March Publications

Diane Goodman's first collection of stories, The Genius of Hunger, consists of portraits of 10 different women. Well-to-do "Phyllis" organizes elaborate parties to fill a horrible void in her life; "Joan" is an overweight woman whose traumatic experience in a gourmet market ends with a strange interaction with a beautiful teenage boy; and "Shiva" finds an anorexic waitress named Marcie, abused as a child, wondering why she gets fired from every restaurant job she has. Using food as a common theme, Goodman expertly cuts across class lines to reveal the souls of her memorable characters with subtlety and compassion. (Carnegie Mellon, $15.95 paper 217p ISBN 0-88748-360-7)

Filmmaker Yonsoo Park's debut, Boy Genius, follows the life of its eponymous protagonist through a surreal stew of politics, betrayal, race and identity. BG falls from grace as a state-sponsored child TV star in Korea and heads to America with his parents. He spends his adolescence rebelling against his teachers in a teeming East Coast slum; when his parents are killed, he heads to California, where surgery transforms him into a Caucasian. Fraught with bizarre plot twists and impossible coincidences, Park's unique characters inhabit a dark, violent and paranoid world in which nothing—and no one—is as it appears. (Akashic, $14.95 paper 231p ISBN 1-888-451-24-6)

Described by Susan Sontag in the introduction to his Selected Stories as "a good-humored, sweet Beckett," Swiss novelist Robert Walser (1878—1956) committed himself to a sanatorium in 1933 and spent the rest of his life there. Admired by Hesse and Kafka, his subjects in these mostly very short pieces (an exception being the melancholic "The Walk") are various and appealing—from an essay on trousers to a mock job application and a short "play" involving a stork and a porcupine: "What a kissing that would have been! We shudder at the thought of it." An excellent introduction to a masterful writer. (New York Review Classics, $12.95 paper 196p ISBN 0-940322-98-6)

Released last year in Canada, Mark Frutkin's Slow Lightning follows Sandro, an apolitical Spanish engineering student caught up in the Spanish Civil War. When his name appears on a police list, he's forced to flee Barcelona on a bicycle, leaving behind a beautiful anarchist as he follows a pilgrimage route to his seaside village. He encounters numerous characters along the way—some, like the priest who gives Sandro his robes to wear, want to help him; others want to kill him. Frutkin (Atmospheres Apollinaire) provides relief from the madness and violence with gentle humor and touches of magic realism, making his reluctant hero's journey all the more memorable. (Raincoast, $15.95 paper 194p ISBN 1-55192-406-4)

With a keen eye and sharp wit, acclaimed author Rebecca Kavaler lays family relationships bare in this collection of stories, A Little More than Kin. In "Give My Brother My Best" a grown woman reflects on her estranged sibling, the golden child who took all the wrong turns; a son confronts his father after his mother's death, stirring up old secrets, in "The Inheritance." Kavaler adds a sci-fi touch to "Servants," in which a wife sees 500 years into the future, only to find that "the servant problem" has not been solved. The descriptions are vivid, the metaphors fresh, the language precise, the insights profound. (Hamilton Stone, $14.95 paper 181p ISBN 0-9654043-8-2)

Prolific, innovative poet and art critic John Yau's My Heart Is That Eternal Rose Tattoo is an exhilarating collection of short fictions, many of which might more accurately be called prose poems. (One untitled piece reads, in its entirety: "The rain conductor glosses the crickets, their long shiny legs trembling in the waterglass morning.") With language as lovely as it is strange, he describes paintings not yet painted, photos not yet taken and movies not yet made. One of the most accessible pieces, "Double Self-Portrait," is a tongue-in-cheek meditation on Andy Warhol and Chairman Mao. Yau's many admirers will be pleased. (Black Sparrow, $30 180p ISBN 1-57423-169-3; paper $16.50 -168-5)