Private Fame: Stories

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The characters in this disconcerting collection of 11 short stories are often alienated intellectuals, withdrawn because of childhood torments or adult psychoses. When Burgin Man Without Memory creates a disturbed individual and writes from his viewpoint--a young man adopts a disguise that allows him to prowl the streets of Manhattan, deliberately scaring people ``The Spirit of New York''; or the woman so afraid to lower her defenses that she won't ever go to sleep ``Rats''--the reader slowly grasps the extent of the distortion in his life. But it's in the stories narrated by the people connected to the disturbed character that we see just how pervasive unbalanced behavior is. A lonely professor accommodates a woman who refuses to venture outside because she fears both her ex-husband and skin cancer ``Heidi Indoors'', and a wife's fixation on a famous philosopher prompts her husband on an obsessive search for information about him ``Some Notes Toward Ending Time''. Treading the edge of reality demands a delicate touch, so Burgin can be forgiven an occasional slip--he veers at times toward the heavy-handed or silly--but his tales are never sedate nor prettified. While his protagonists' existences twist to extremes, they remain surprisingly and uncomfortably valid. Oct.
Library Journal
The people in this second collection of 11 engrossing stories are teetering on the outer limits of sanity. With dexterity and skill, Burgin exposes their excessive anxiety and their poignant attempts to cope. The narrator in ``Rats'' sums up the feeling of most of Burgin's characters: ``Life is certainly terrifying.'' In an attempt to deal with his own fear, the narrator of ``The Spirit of New York'' spends his spare time scaring women, jumping out of doorways or from behind parked cars late at night. The impossibility of connecting in a positive way with another human being imbues all of the stories. In ``Silver Screen'' a mother and son are locked in a destructive relationship; in another story the narrator cannot maintain a friendship with a loved boyhood friend. Burgin traces the lives of his people as they indulge and pursue their compulsions, and never lets himself or the reader ignore their terror and their loneliness.-- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252018435
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1991
  • Series: Illinois Short Fiction Series
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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