From Publishers Weekly
In 15 stories, Means's characters try to understand one another, but they rarely succeed. Perpetual ships passing in the night, these people may unintentionally get into fistfights ("McGregor's Day On"), or drift into mild infidelities while swimming at the beach ("At Point Lookout") or save hundreds of shoeboxes filled with obscure clippings and bits of photographs ("The Library of Desire"). In the title story, teenagers, little more than strangers to each other, neck in the loft of a church during a service. Afterward, as they go down the ladder, the narrator feels "an urge to shout some brilliant, significant things at her," but doesn't, because "the words were gone that once explained what we did or what made us do it." The writing in this debut collection doesn't always flow; sometimes there is a self-conscious emphasis on meaningfulness. But the author has a good ear and a sense of what makes a story, and this is an encouraging beginning.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Means shows a talent for strong visual images in this first collection, but, unfortunately, few of the stories themselves have an equally strong impact. The majority of the pieces deal with various aspects of male sexuality and rites of passage--from coming of age to acknowledging a sister's active sex life to homosexuality, the sometimes elusive quality of marital sex and the sexuality of the old and ill. ``A Myth of Devotion,'' about a marriage on the rocks on the Costa del Sol, where an exhibitionistic young woman captures the imagination and lust of all the males on the beach, is perhaps one of the most poignant. In ``Library of Desire,'' a nephew, in search of better understanding, pores through boxes of old and odd clippings that his gay uncle has left him. In ``Close Your Eyes,'' a sympathetic neighbor discovers two Vietnam buddies, one white and one black, kissing in the grass. In ``A Question of Toby,'' an adulterous preacher prepares to humiliate his son when the boy is caught by his mother abusing himself. And in the effective title story, a young boy is initiated into the way of sex while kissing in the upper nooks of a church as services are in progress. Means's stories all have their moments and, in most cases, an ease of voice--but without a strong sense of place or exceptional dialogue, they fail to leave a lasting impression. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.