From Publishers Weekly
From a business lunch at a New York restaurant to a tourist's experience at a French market, from the beginning of an affair in an Italian villa to the end of a romance near a Kansas prison, Stern's 11 stories form a kaleidoscope of hope that gradually changes into patterns of disillusion and disappointment. The expertly structured, artfully detailed tales follow artists and exiles, lovers and parents, upstarts and retirees, as they seek escape from the ordinary in music, art, relationships and work. A University of Virginia graduate spends his first day in New York having lunch at the Palm restaurant in "Lunch with Gottlieb," discovering the web of compromise that makes up an advertising career. The coyly titled "Foxx Hunting" chronicles a middle-aged widower's pilgrimage to Los Angeles to find an actress from a porn film made decades ago. The son of a Jewish immigrant fears following in his father's forgetful footsteps in "Apraxia," one of several stories where Jewish imagery places Stern in the tradition of Bellow, Malamud and Roth. Like their heroes, Stern's fictions are capable of extraordinary about-faces. The award-winning author (Twice Told Tales; One Day's Perfect Weather; etc.) enriches his stories with cultural references and a profound sense of decency. In two tales about reluctant mentors, Stern celebrates art while making fun of the human process of creating it. The title story, the collection's longest and most detailed, is a coming-of-age tale of a music prodigy learning about love and life while preparing for an audition. Like other Stern heroes, the 17-year old acquires a gentle sadness, not bitterness, as he succumbs to the law of diminishing expectations. Blurbs from Elie Wiesel and Edward Albee attest to the collection's literary credentials. (Feb. 10)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Stern presents a collection of stories about artists, musicians, and writers and their search for meaning and connection in the world. Despite the title, only the first and last stories are really about young people, and even those are told as if remembered from midway through life. Sex is used by many of the characters to express a longing for the past or future, but it rarely has the intended effect. In "Messenger," the former lover and a childhood friend of a deceased artist meet in a small Italian town. "Foxx Hunting" relates the quest of a widower for a porn actress he's become obsessed with. The title story is the moving account of a young, would-be musician at the crux of discovery about life, sex, and everything in between. For literary collections.DChristine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.