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Cardinal Numbers Hardcover – April 12, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though written when the author was confined to a respirator, paralyzed from the neck down, these short stories crackle with life. Broun (Odditorium, Inner Tube), who died last year, uses New Age techniques to describe the disconnections that deflect ordinary lives. "Ice Water" shows us an elderly, celibate antiquarian bookseller drinking glass after glass of ice water as he watches the nightly rituals of a woman standing naked in the window opposite. "Finding Florida" imagines that Che Guevara, gazing at a red-haired librarian, is "struck by desire as sudden and acute as asthma," and later is told by a fortune teller that he will die for love. Denser and trickier is "Blood Aspens," a story of the Wild West, with casting directions for real-life actors (Andy Devine and Marlon Brando). Desperados ride through Old Western towns, killing anyone who gets in their way; one rides off with the victim's ears dangling from his belt. "Cows on the Drag Strip" takes a fundamentalist salesman from the jazzy distractions of the city to the rural backwater where he was born, the messages of Jimmy Swaggart and Revelations pounding in his head. The denominator common to these vignettes is their combination of intellectual fancy and up-to-the-minute factthe echoes of centuries-old poetry synchronized with jazz, cinema, the slipstream of jets. Precisely detailed as to time, place and activity, they cannot fail to pique the curiosity.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

$15.95. f We move through emptiness toward death: this familiar theme seems the condition of the many characters in this posthumously published collection of 19 stories. A private duty nurse requests assignment to a terminal case; a suicide flips a coin to choose whether the next moment brings life or death; a cartoonist "operates always at several removes, straggling, aimed elsewhere." Form follows theme as these stories unwind, collections of details given importance by what is not said. This is their weakness. Broun often turns a phrase without turning the story, leaving one wondering exactly what the purpose was. The result is a collection that dies of its own inertia.Paul E. Hutchison, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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