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IN BRIEF

Fiction

February 05, 1995|ERIKA TAYLOR

MOVING HOUSE by Pawel Huelle (Harcourt, Brace: $18.95; 248 pp.) The best of these seven short stories, set in Gdansk, are those narrated by a young boy with troubled parents who bicker about what was actually worse: the Nazis or post World War II Russian domination. In all of Huelle's writing, the miraculous exists alongside the everyday, and completely unexpected events can happen at a moments notice.

For the most part, "Moving House" is optimistic and quietly political. In the title story, a boy becomes entranced with an older German woman who plays Wagner for him on the piano, an act which greatly upsets his "Kraut" hating mother. "Uncle Henry" traces the path of a young man and his uncle as they travel through a blizzard to a mysterious, dream-like village where all disputes are settled by annual cockfights.

The odd thing about many of these pieces is their stylistic stiffness, a sort of distant, mannered quality which may or may not be a byproduct of the translation from Polish. On a few occasions there were specific words that felt subtly inappropriate given the context of the sentence.

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