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IN BRIEF

Fiction

August 28, 1994|CHRIS GOODRICH

HERE: Stories by Elizabeth Inness-Brown (Louisiana State University Press: $19.95; 113 pp.) Loss, grief, sorrow, heartache--those and similar pains often bring out the best in writers, presumably because they push writers to explore the far corners of understanding, to try to articulate the inarticulable. That's certainly the case with Elizabeth Inness-Brown, whose most memorable stories, in this collection at least, involve leave-taking. In "Addison," a professor hears of the death of the long-time waitress at his local diner, and realizes she provided his world with a centering ballast; in "Happy Father's Day," a son honors his father's memory by planning to take his grown children fishing, perhaps even lobstering, at the family's summer cottage; in "Really Love Him," a woman hoping to leave her friends and current lover wonders what could make her stay, contemplates the connection between perfect, solitary moments and lasting partnerships. Many of the stories in "Here" seem unfinished or insubstantial, containing characters and ideas waiting for a larger canvas, but others are fine just as they are, describing how little we know about our lives until pushed to the edge. That's made most clear, perhaps, in "Sleepwalker," and it's too bad the title diffuses much of the story's impact; what's disturbing a young couple's routine condominium life isn't a poltergeist but their own, half-sleeping selves, telling them to follow their dreams while they still can.

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