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FICTION : EDITOR'S CHOICE: NEW AMERICAN STORIES, VOLUME II, compiled by George E. Murphy Jr. (Bantam: $16.95, hardcover; $8.95, paperback).

July 27, 1986|Shelly Lowenkopf

George Murphy's whim as editor of this largely felicitous anthology brings forth established writers such as Margaret Atwood, Janette Turner Hospital, the late John Gardner and Trevanian, letting them take their chances against the talents of newcomers such as Robert William Antoni, Kurt Druecker and Brent Spencer. The better-known writers are pleasing, slick and, with the exception of Gardner, fluid; the first-timers spare and adventurous--but "Editor's Choice" really shines in its middle ranks, the men and women who have published enough to speak in strong, compelling voices.

"All Set About With Fever Trees" by Pam Durban is layered with rich characters, evocative scenes and a tapestry of discovery as a young woman with an amazing grandmother looks for the pathway to her own destiny.

Andre Dubus' "Land Where My Fathers Died" is a haunting, convoluted mystery that appeared in the respected literary journal Antaeus. It captures the post-Raymond Chandler Angst of James Crumley but vibrates with its own voice.

American Book Award-winner Bob Shacochis' "Redemption Songs" is a wildly funny, bitingly real mixture of politics and morality, featuring Glasford and Fish, two young Caribbeans with a mission.

Of the new writers, Brent Spencer is potent with "The Small Things That Save Us," a memorable look at the themes of love, alienation and hanging on in the face of adversity.

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