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IN BRIEF

Fiction

January 02, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MALE NUDES IN AMERICA: Stories by Dianne Nelson (Georgia: $19.95; 137 pp.) These stories, in which traveling with or without, running away from or to men figures prominently, won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Indeed, she's from Utah, but Nelson has a flat-mouthed southern humor that reads a lot like wisdom. In "Paperweight"' the narrator is obsessed with a man named Prentice, who, at one point, follows her out to her car, "complicating the darkness." In "In the Shadows of Upshot-Knothole," the narrator's mother is described: "Even ten miles off and blowing toward her, trouble was about as discreet as an ocean liner full of singing drunks." In "Ground Rules," Lewis Houser and his son Nathan steal Nathan's little brother from Lewis' ex-wife Alta, hiding in the back yard, snatching the baby, and crossing the "line into the sweet, big grain belt of Kansas." Kansas is also a character in several stories, a place where "the sky veers suddenly into your path, deep and unavoidable."

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