Lynn delivers dry, credible sketches of small psychological turning points in the 14 stories of his first collection. Even when the action includes a fight and a death ("Hard Feelings"), Lynn's feelers are out for changes in sentiment rather than action, and he prefers stories that take their angle of vision as seriously as what they see. In "Play," for instance, Lynn takes a third party's point of view in order to show how a typical instance of school bullying meshes with larger social forces. A gifted black kid caught in a declining school system, James Russell watches bullies pick on his sometime playmate, biracial Stevie Peters. When James tries to protect Stevie, an aging, bitter white teacher thwarts his reluctant sense of justice. Lynn has an instinct for the tentativeness of male adolescence. A narrator aware of his own sentimentality brings unexpected pathos to "When the Time Is Right," a clich -risking tale about a promising high school athlete struck down in his prime. For all his strengths, though, Lynn has yet to find the transfiguring theme that could turn these sketches into something more lasting. His one attempt to make such a statement, "Recollections," about a writer's unhappy reunion with a love from his youth and the writerly exploitation that poisoned their affair, never quite convinces with its pat self-laceration and awkward reach for the elegiac. Yet it's likely that in the future Lynn will put his considerable talents to some more memorable use.
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
In these fine, first collection of character-driven stories Lynn, editor of Kenyon Review, presents complicated situations from modern life. Two boys who really don't like each other are thrown together by their parents' love affair in the story "Play." The other children taunt and humiliate the younger child, and James Russell must choose whether to help someone he really doesn't like or let him be victimized by others. In another intriguing story, a modern Indian couple try to subvert their parents' plan for promoting an arranged marriage by writing a compelling advertisement for the woman. The title story is about a relationship between two people in a university town, who attempt a love affair without passion. Many of the stories feature Jewish protagonists trying to deal with mainstream culture in a town where a synagogue looks like a steepleless church. The story "Hard Feelings" presents a woman trying to deal with her drunk boyfriend, who is very sensitive when sober, but incorrigible under the influence of alcohol. Good dialogue, good prose, these stories will appeal wherever story collections are popular.?Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.