Cynthia Ozick's ``Puttermesser Paired''--further misadventures of a 50-ish spinster lawyer--is the first-prize winner in this year's volume. Editor Abrahams's ongoing respect for her work notwithstanding, this is not the best Ozick: Though dense with eccentric detail and of course stylish, it is (like a number of late Ozick productions) more about previous literature than character. The O.Henry tends away from the trendy, but this year there are some interestingly new-wave-ish stories represented: Murray Pomerance's ``Decor'' and Daniel Meltzer's quite funny and garish ``People.'' Ken Chowder, a fine novelist, is well represented with ``With Seth in Tana Toraja''--a loose, sketchy, lurching story that's redolent of the saddest and sweetest parts of the Sixties and early Seventies. More conventionally, Alice Adams has a good, tight story here, ``The Last Lovely City''; as does Perri Klass with ``Dedication.'' Best in The New Yorker-ish mode (and, in fact, from that magazine) is David Long's ``Blue Spruce''- -a tale about uneasy sisters-in-law living, just the two of them, in the same house. The collection's high point (but impressively underplayed) is Antonya Nelson's ``The Control Group''--a foster child's infatuation with his fourth-grade teacher, a small lost soul in search of trust. Nothing else in the volume is quite as affecting or seems so plainly true. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
These generally accomplished stories cannily convey modern sensibilities and anxieties. Perri Klass's hero, a writer in his late 40s, has a little trouble adjusting to his new, happy role as husband, father and stepfather, while Ann Packer's heroine, a single, 34-year-old advertising copywriter and survivor of a string of bad relationships, dreams about having a baby but can't think about having a husband. In a tale by Lucy Honig, students learning English as a second language come from various backgrounds but share a history of political oppression; the protagonists in a story by Mary Michael Wagner are paramedics who deal with heroin addicts, AIDS and burn victims as well as with their confusing feelings of love for each other; Kate Braverman depicts a recovering addict who, entranced by a man she meets at an AA session, is turned on again to cigarettes, booze and life on the edge. The two jewels in this collection are firmly grounded in the present but have a timeless quality: Tom McNeal protrays a hardworking, hard-playing farmer whose sense of self is destroyed when he learns that his mother abandoned him as a baby; and Cynthia Ozick limns a professional woman living in Manhattan who in her 50s decides to model her life after George Eliot's and looks for a George Henry Lewes to fulfill her.
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Book Description Doubleday, 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0385421915