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Man Without Memory: Stories

Man Without Memory: Stories

by Richard Burgin

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With the odd assortment of troubled characters in this slim collection, Burgin proves himself an author with a harrowing vision of predicaments peculiar to the current American scene. Told in the first person, these nine stories depict confused and compromised individuals, moving obsessively from city to city, fleeing their pasts but heading toward uncertain futures. Though well-educated and savvy, these characters lack self-knowledge, and carry their intelligence as a burden instead of a comfort. In ``Notes on Mrs. Slaughter,'' a young man without self-identity rooms with a paranoid woman near Harvard and is drawn into her delusion that she is being followed by the Mafia. The theme is repeated in ``Mason,'' as, against his will, a young itinerant handyman becomes involved with the proprietress of a boardinghouse. The stories often reveal a sexual undertow, such as the suppressed incestuous attraction in ``Constitution Day,'' or the confused longing and repulsion the female narrator in ``Carlin's Trio'' feels for the married couple she meets at a music festival.The most powerful and finely crafted, ``The Victims'' explores the fate of two gifted and fiercely competitive friends in a relationship so close it threatens to ruin their lives. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Could Burgin's stories be spearheading a ``Nineties'' movement toward a literary treatment of America that accepts the festering problems of AIDS, drugs, overcrowded cities, and pollution as mere background noise in a universe beginning to collapse upon itself? The Pushcart Prize-winning ``Notes on Mrs. Slaughter'' offers a study in paranoia reminiscent of some of Paul Bowles's stories; the narrator's ineffable terror is like a fingernail scratching at the door of his mind. ``Aerialist'' finds a perverted spirituality in the protagonist's obsession with views of sky from his top-floor apartment. Messages in the movement of clouds direct him to pursue a young woman for whom he has repressed sexual feelings. Burgin's style suits his material: spare prose with an ear for contemporary urban speech. This collection, which looks squarely into the heart of modern darkness, deserves a wide readership. --Francis Poole, Kentucky Welseyan Coll., Owensboro

Product Details

University of Illinois Press
Publication date:
Illinois Short Fiction Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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