Following his book of stories, Almost Home , radio personality and singer Schwartz, the son of noted musical-comedy composer Arthur Schwartz, presents 10 interconnected episodic short stories about Jesse Savitt, a journalist living in New York. Consisting of a record of emotional experiencesschool days, difficult romances, spoiled friendships, a picnic with an ex-wife and daughter, tragedy and insanitythey reveal, though not in chronological order, the events that have formed Jesse as an adult. Most of the stories center on Jesse's unusual, metamorphous relationship with his widower father, Norman, a songwriter and composer. Norman, who knew Cary Grant ``to talk to,'' plays his new compositions to Jesse over the telephone, and, as he grows older and disappointed with his lack of fame, bemoans the cacophony of rock music and changing societal tastes. Other experiences involve Norman only pe ripherally: in Chloe Hummel of the Chicago White Sox , Jesse's first sexual liaison starts with fireworks but ends on a note of disappointment; in Crazy , Jesse gets his feelings hurt again, to the point of a slight nervous breakdown. Schwartz tends to confuse self-pity with pathos and tries to load import into some mundane and trite incidents, but the relationship between father and son evoked in these pages is inventive and powerful, and salvages the collection as a whole. (October)
Spanning more than 30 years, this poignant collection of short stories forms a mosaic novel of virtuosity. The stories focus on the relationship of journalist Jesse Savitt with his father, his wives and lovers, his mentors, and his friends. Each story is distinguished by Schwartz's elegant characterizations, as the protagonists negotiate the steps of an uneasy dance of love. In ``Chloe Hummel of the Chicago White Sox,'' young Jesse is seduced by a free-spirited actress. ``Waiting, Weeping'' is an examination of Jesse's realization that his beloved father is dying. This sensitive work belongs in most fiction collections. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.