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Fortune Telling Paperback – April 1, 1998

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Library Journal

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Short Fiction Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Carnegie Mellon; First Edition edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088748283X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887482830
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,352,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book is proof--if more proof were necessary--the the fate of our national literature rests, finally and happily, in the hands of the university presses. Carnegie-Mellon Press, an established disseminator of poetry, has, with David Lynn's Fortune Telling, entered the short fiction market on a positive note. These writerly stories, culled from the pages of many of the country's finest literary journals, range greatly in their topical allusion, but all possess a similar brand of compassion and, unfailingly, a fictional breath of life. One story takes place in India and has the flavor, the physicality and crispness of language, conjured by many contemporary Indian writers. The shortest of the stories, a mere 2 pages of condensed fury, seeks to immerse us in the texture of a potentially maudlin moment, but, instead, we find ourselves decourously steered away from sentimentalism at the last moment, through horror and into surprise. The only complaint that could be leveled against the stories in this volume concerns the aura of effeteism that clings to many of the pages. These stories, some of them, seem overrefined to near intellectual glibness, like they've spent too much time under the author's laboring hands. But, still, most readers will revel in their adroit handling of plot, their artful assemblage. They are, unlike many fictions found in the more popular magazines, real stories, possessing the essential criteria of dramatic thrust: a discrete beginning, middle and end--as well as having lots to look at on the way.
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Format: Paperback
Another pickup from a Thurber House book sale, this collection of short stories was certainly worth purchasing. The stories do not follow the typical path, often leaving without clear resolution, but in this case the journey the characters take during the story is what matters more than the final destination. Many of these have been published in some of the finer literary magazines out there, a testament to the strength of the prose contained.

If you are looking for sheer entertainment, this is not the collection for you. If you want to think about what you are reading, then this should certainly allow you to do that.
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