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IN BRIEF

Fiction

January 02, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

TELLING TIME: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories by Nancy Willard. (Harcourt Brace: $12.95; 226 pp.) These are stories about writing stories, many of which were told at the Breadloaf Writers' Conference to fellow storytellers. Each has a rubric, a riddle, a metaphor hovering over the story like a guardian angel. In one, Adam and Eve recount their losses for an insurance agent, including the loss of poetry; in another, Miss Gatherer and Miss Experience lead two different lives in the same writer. In "The Skin on What We've Said," Willard gives us the same two "nuggets of advice" she's given her students: "Show, don't tell; and write from what you know." 'Looking for Mr. Ames" is a lovely elegy for a professor of creative writing, and in "Truth's the Devil Who Told Me," Willard presents the poem as riddle, in which it is not by solving the riddle so much as writing it that we live. Here, as elsewhere, she writes from what she knows, but she shows just a little bit more than she tells.

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