Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyWith this new collection, Bell ( Soldier's Joy ; Zero db and Other Stories ) expands his territory, in both geographic and interior landscapes, and claims a place among our most accomplished writers. From the meticulously imagined perspective of a monk-like Chinese mouse, who accepts the exigencies of caged life with courage and admirable intelligence (``Holding Together''), to the frustrations and sorrow of a young former drug addict trying to regain custody of her son in ``Customs of the Country,'' Bell creates characters whose circumstances and states of mind are both recognizable and revealing. Their wide spectrum ranging from the urban homeless in `` Move On Up'' and `` Finding Natasha '' to the tobacco farmer turned dog trainer turned boarder of juvenile incorrigibles ( `` Black and Tan '') and the old sculptress of the estimable `` Dragon Seed'' (she communes with a pair of private demons and wreaks appropriate vengeance on a child pornographer), the people in these stories exert an irresistible pull. Save for an occasional unconvincing coincidence, Bell takes us to Manhattan, to his native South, to the French Riviera with its whisper of music, to London--altogether a memorable tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library JournalRelentlessly grim and razor-sharp, Bell's stories get better with each offering. Studying people who live on the dark underbelly of society, he presents a crystal-clear vision of humanity that disturbs and intrigues. This latest collection (following Db and Other Stories , LJ 2/1/87, and novels that include Soldier's Joy , LJ 5/15/89) is reminiscent of Salinger's Nine Stories in its variety and depiction of odd human characters. From the homeless (``Move on Up'') to the disturbed (``Barking Man'') to panhandlers on the French Riviera (``Petit Cachou'') and a poor, haunted old woman with a child pornographer neighbor (``Dragon's Seed''), these characters will linger in the mind of the reader. Memorable, and sure to add to the author's growing reputation.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L.. Va.
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