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Hard life of Billie Holiday

smart verse of Ogden Nash

kicking the war habit

Books of the Region

June 12, 2005|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Sun Staff

He's a gifted caricaturist and many of his fat cats, squared-headed generals and slippery-eyed politicians are amusing. But Andreas is neither fair nor balanced in his single-minded effort to get us to "Kick Out the War Junkies!"

So the Story Goes: Twenty-five Years of the Johns Hopkins Short Fiction Series

Edited by John T. Irwin and Jean McGarry. 303 pages. $18.95 paperback. $30 hardcover.

Twenty stories by twenty authors from twenty collections published in the Short Fiction Series are offered here. The stories are all written with a high literary competence, some are virtuoso performances. No particular style seems detectable: Thirty-six Miracles of Lyndon Johnson, by Jennifer Finney Boylan, elides the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon in 36 numbered paragraphs. Many of the stories deal with domestic situations, even The Last Time, by Jean McGarry, the editor, which occurs within the menage of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Guy Davenport's A Field of Snow on a Slope is a baroque, or even rococo, tour de force expedition inside the mind of a gent in an asylum. The last sentence is: "But let us desist, lest quite by accident we be so unlucky as to put things in order."

And there's no reason to object when John Barth, the Maryland novelist who helped create the Hopkins Writing Seminars, says these stories satisfy "that primal and distinctive human pleasure: sharing jim-dandy stories."

This is Carl Schoettler's first column reviewing books of Maryland interest in The Sun. A reporter for The Evening Sun and The Sun for more than 40 years, including tours of duty in the Vietnam War and Europe, he will write the column every other month, rotating with James H. Bready, who himself has written about books for The Sun for half a century.

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