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June 20, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

A GOOD SCENT FROM A STRANGE MOUNTAIN by Robert Olen Butler (Penguin: $10; 249 pp.). Butler won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for these beautifully crafted stories about Vietnamese expatriates in America. Although traumatized by the loss of their homes, Butler's characters display familiar emotions: a father struggles to recreate a lost heritage for his Americanized son; a once-powerful undercover agent discovers he can no longer defy the men who pursue his beautiful wife. In the moving "Fairy Tale," a former bar girl muses on the words "once upon a time," and decides, "I think this is very nice, how you get up on the back of time and ride and you don't know where it will go or how it will try to throw you off."

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