From Publishers Weekly
Burgin, author of 11 books (including The Spirit of Returns) and publisher of Boulevard, dwells on the violence, and the humor, of misconnection in impressive detail. In "Mayor Bat," a man picks up a drunken woman at a bar, takes her home, and proceeds to humiliate and terrorize her because she is "addicted to humiliation," and he must change her behavior. "The Second Floor" features another sociopath in the form of a man obsessed by a young girl in a Philadelphia park, Abby, whom he probably killed; the second girl he picks up and takes home learns to look and act like Abby to please her keeper. In "Vivian and Sid Break Up," Vivian does the leaving after 13 years, but feels galled by the prospect of Sid's dating another woman. The narrator of "Robert and His Wife" is a lonely man who befriends the charismatic Robert at a literary meeting, but finds double dating his fabulous ex-wife. The title story, set at a Florida conference on beauty that grows increasingly more confessional and bizarre, concludes this astute exploration-touched with satire-of emotional vacancy and its attendant brutality.
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From Library Journal
This compelling collection of short fiction explores the lives of people who are haunted by personal anguish and terrible loneliness. Most of the main characters in these stories are financially stable but are nonetheless emotionally impoverished and so desperate for meaningful human interaction that many seek comfort from strangers, often with predictably unfortunate results. For example, in the poignant title story, Martin is a solitary and unhappy young man who receives $50,000 from a trust fund established for him by his grandmother. Although Martin's ambitions are modest?"to be near a friendly group of people"?he is unable to realize them, and the story ends when the prostitute he has tried to befriend robs him. This strong collection (Burgin's third following Private Fame, Univ. of Illinois, 1991) is recommended for libraries with large modern fiction collections.?Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
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