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Don't be put off by "The Intruder," the opening entry in Andre Dubus' fine new short-story collection, Dancing After Hours. Once you get past this flat-footed xcursion into Oedipal territory, you're in for a treat, because the remainder of the book shows Dubus in top form, telling stories with marvelous tact and delicacy. Many of them, granted, are on the dour side: when the recently divorced woman in "A Love Song" develops a new passion, for example, she can't help but note "the dark glisten and static quiver of stored tears" in her eyes. Likewise, the male protagonist in another tale is so burned by the collapse of his latest relationship that he vows to hole up in a Mexican village and "look the demon in the eye" — a liquor-fueled form of therapy that will doubtless leave him as miserable as he was in the first place.
Of course, by making joy such a rare commodity Dubus doesn't prevent himself from doing it justice. In "All The Time In The World," a lonely woman named LuAnn Arceneaux falls in love, finally, with the right man, and her happiness transforms everything around her: "She felt her months alone leaving her; she was shedding a condition; it was becoming her past. Outside in the sun, walking to work, she felt she could see the souls of people in their eyes." What love does for LuAnn, the author does for his readers: his stories make the souls of his characters artfully apparent.