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IN BRIEF

Fiction

July 24, 1994|CHRIS GOODRICH

THE WEEKEND by Peter Cameron (Farrar Straus Giroux: $17; 241 pp.). How clever, you think: Wouldn't a novella about weekend visitors make a sly, charming gift for your summer-weekend hosts? Think again: Peter Cameron's "The Weekend" is in fact a dark, sober tale, illustrating the ways in which unexpected company can expose the brittleness and instability of apparently solid relationships. Lyle and Marion are the best of friends, and both are looking forward to his spending time at Marion's beautiful home in the Adirondacks, where she lives with husband John and their small child. Marion is slightly alarmed, however, when Lyle asks if he can bring a friend, for Tony, Lyle's lover and John's half-brother, died in that very house exactly one year earlier. Marion's fears, naturally, come true: Lyle's new lover, Robert, is a normal, attractive young man, but his inquisitiveness, indeed his mere presence, unbalances the weekend gathering to the point that it spins in ugly, disconcerting directions. Cameron, author of three previous works of fiction, doesn't need to resort to melodrama to make the story work, for his characters are able through conversation alone to reveal how little they understand the arc of their own lives, let alone the lives of their friends. No, "The Weekend" is not a good house- warming gift . . . but it's the perfect book to read while a free- loading guest, and to leave behind should the weekend jangle.

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