Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyAn existential sadness pervades this affecting first collection of interlinked stories, which chronicle a man's attempts to take control of his life and his defeat at destiny's firm hands. We meet Dan Foley as a youngster accompanying his undertaker father ``on removal,'' during which he learns that death can reveal terrible secrets. In his subsequent misadventures, some inherently more dramatic than others, he grows up to become a Florida architect and the father of two children, yet still feels distant from his own experience. In ``Foley Returns'' a criminal cousin reaches across the years to remind Dan that the ``old routes of comfort'' and the ``soothing geography'' of family relations can simply disappear. But lessons always come too late, and he persists in trying to manipulate his fate. ``Foley's Motto'' shows him attempting to adhere to such vague maxims as ``love something'' and ``expect nothing,'' only to find that destiny has another idea--in this instance, divorce. Chiarella, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker , sets forth these hard truths in unvarnished, seemingly artless prose that assumes transcendent power. ( Sept. )
Library JournalChiarella chronicles the stages of his protagonist's life in a series of 11 short stories, ranging from childhood to old age. Dan Foley is an imaginative and somewhat eccentric character, not unlike John Irving's T.S. Garp. As a youth, he and his drunken brother Hank serve as indifferent apprentices in his father's mortuary. Neither son elects to take over the business. Hank leaves home without saying goodbye, creating a bit of a family schism, and Foley utimately graduates from the University of Florida with a degree in architecture. He meets Grace, his future wife, while working in a movie theater during college. They have two children, to whom Foley is devoted, and eventually divorce. A benign storyteller, Foley engages in lies and magical thinking, which sometimes get him into trouble. The tales of Foley (a.k.a. Berard) have appeared in The New Yorker , Story , and The Florida Review . Recommended for public libraries.-- Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews