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IN BRIEF

Fiction

July 28, 1996|MICHAEL HARRIS

EYES LIKE MINE by Paul Cody (Baskerville: $20, 252 pp.) With his wife, Ann, expecting their first baby, 37-year-old Will Ross looks back on his life all the way to the womb and imagines it forward to his death. Raised in an Irish Catholic household in a Boston suburb during the 1960s, he has lived through war, assassinations, drugs and serial killers. He has spent time in a mental hospital, watched his father die, attended a writing program at Cornell University. A fairly ordinary life, but not to Ross. He wonders what he will be able to tell the coming child--a child with "eyes like mine"--when he or she asks him about what happened in that life.

The events and characters that crowd Paul Cody's second novel don't add up to a conventional story. We never learn exactly why Ross is hospitalized. A bisexual woman he meets at Cornell, who promises to be important in his life, disappears from the book, as promising acquaintances sometimes do in reality. Cody focuses not on plot but on the events themselves--their qualities of sound and light, their feel--in a singularly soft, insistent voice. Readers who value plot and action will find it awfully slow going. Others, though, will respond to the universality of Ross' concerns and to Cody's vision of families, which is never more vivid than when Ross is imagining his alternative futures. Rich and poor, connected and solitary, with and without Ann and the child, every one of them has a chance to come true.

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