Picks and Pans Review: Easy in the Islands

UPDATED 04/01/1985 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 04/01/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

by Bob Shacochis

There are nine stories in this book, which seems to be written mostly for men. The title tale (an exception to the macho theme of most of the stories) is about a man named Tillman who has inherited a hotel on a tropical island where the native officials are corrupt and arbitrary. When Tillman's mother, who has arrived unexpectedly for a visit, dies suddenly, Tillman is determined that the island's officials will not perform an autopsy on her. He puts her in the hotel freezer until he can solve his problem: how to get the body back to the States for burial. With the help of a friend who has an airplane, he loads her body into a metal chemical cylinder and they take off at night. In a more typical story, "Dead Reckoning," narrated by a young woman, a couple goes sailing in a boat built by a tough ex-Navy man. The young woman learns the hard way about the sea—and about why the ex-sailor will not give anything at all to a begging child. In "The Pelican" the hero goes to a club in an island city: "The music fizzed at high volume from the cracked speakers of the Black Cat bar—the Black Cat open all night, a chapel where men came to release the duty of hard living." All the men in these tough-guy stories, in fact, are doing a lot of hard living. For those who wondered where such macho fiction went after the death of Argosy and other honorable adventure magazines for men, Shacochis' crisp stories show it to be alive and well. (Crown, $13.95)

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