From Library Journal
Having a first novel ( Edisto , LJ 3/15/84) nominated for an ABA award is a hard act to follow, but Powell's subsequent works continue to establish his reputation as a literary wordsmith of the first order. Typical is anything but a typical collection of short stories--it's a dazzling display of verbal pyrotechnics and literary lunacy, mordantly outrageous Southern Gothic wit, and incidents that transcend reality and take on an irrepressible logic of their own. The title story, selected for The Best American Short Stories of 1990 , is a gem of modern madness played out by a down-and-out Texas realist. "The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping" is a Florida-based love story unlike any other romantic tale, yet the characters are so real and true that they linger in the mind. Powell rises above the easily applied label "Southern writer"; he is a brilliant crafter of words. Recommended.- Judith F. Bradley, Acad. of the Holy Cross Lib., Kensington, Md.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
This first collection by the author of Edisto and A Woman Named Drown is an odd and arresting mix of full-length stories and lots of little pieces--none of them conventional by any means, and all of them typical of Powell's goofy, southern-inflected lust for language. Powell's snippets include a number of fractured profiles of strange people and places gone weird. There are: ``Dr. Ordinary'' and his litany of the things he finds odious; ``General Rancidity,'' hated all over his military base because ``only the truly rancid themselves could run with him''; ``Mr. Nefarious,'' who smiles about his girlfriend and a fancy outdoor bench; ``Mr. Desultory,'' who gives in to regression because he cannot do things in succession; and ``Miss Resignation,'' who loses at Bingo so much she decides to smoke the cards. Powell clearly agrees with the notion voiced here that ``character is nothing but warts.'' Place fares poorly too: ``Kansas'' is defined by the absence of farming; ``Texas'' is a list of things done and some know-nothing aphorisms; ``South Carolina'' finds the pickup-driving narrator molesting a belle at a fancy cotillion; and ``Florida'' is a drunk lament about what used to be. In Powell's mordant and absurd world, you watch a flood (``Flood'') and a body floats into your arms; you work as a roofer and your buddy decapitates himself in a fall on the job (``Wayne's Fate''); you ramble and drink in the woods, and someone offers perversion (``Proposition''). Faulknerian style and subject come in for some direct ribbing. ``Wait'' sidetracks a rococo turn about a bulldog and a corncob with some plain talk; and ``Lebove and Son,'' a postscript to The Hamlet, considers the consequences of literary revelation. Not quite so academic, but metafictional in their own bizarre way, are ``Mr. Irony,'' a tale of ``low-affect living edged with self-deprecating irony''; and ``Mr. Irony Renounces Irony,'' the confessions of a style abuser. The much- reprinted title story is the narrative of a true underground man, an admitted ``piece of crud'' and unemployed steelworker who thinks he's just ``Typical.'' Lyrically intense and full of the surreal juxtapositions you find in the flotsam of floodwaters: stories at once edgy and exuberant. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.