Frederick Barthelme creates an unforgettably wistful cast of characters, ordinary people moving carefully and curiously through a gently painful world.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyMost of these 15 short stories tell of middle-class people living ordinary lives. They suffer from such minor ailments as insomnia or contact lens problems. Their eccentricities are minuscule, their affairs half-hearted. They live in similar homes with tiny yards or stay in motels. Spare time is for watching TV or driving to the mall. In one of the most animated and appealing stories, ``Driver,'' a TV show about automobiles so affects the protagonist that he first weeps, then trades in the family car for a customized Lincoln and drivesto the mall. Barthelme (Moon Deluxe writes about people who barely skim the surfaces of their emotions. Individually the stories are well written and interesting. As a collection, there is a numbing sameness in the characters' flat emotional responses, making it seem that they could be moved into each other's stories as easily as their portable barbecues could be moved into their neighbors' yards. (April 23)
Library Journal - Library JournalBeneath the coy surface minimalism of Barthelme's stories lies a carefully observed world, the realm of the upwardly mobile but spiritually disadvantaged. ``Meaning must be found in the self,'' complains a vaguely dissatisfied wife, ``only I looked there already.'' But suburban discontents are pretty easily assuaged. In the title story the answer is ``organized infidelity''; in ``Driver,'' the middle-class narrator buys a gaudy lowrider car. It's only when Barthelme moves beyond these comfortable crises (as in the striking ``Architecture,'' about an incestuous affair) that we sense he's making the very most of his considerable skills. For any collection where short stories are read. Barthelme's most recent work is Tracer ( LJ 8/85). Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.
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