Picks and Pans Review: Success Stories

UPDATED 09/01/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/01/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Russell Banks

These uneven stories by a writing teacher at Princeton—the author of the novel Continental Drift and seven other books—include several about members of the same New Hampshire family. "Queen for a Day" tells of the reaction of a 12-year-old boy when his parents decide to separate. The father is an alcoholic carpenter whose work takes him across the state, where he has another woman. In "Success Story," the boy in "Queen for a Day" has been given a scholarship to an Ivy League school, but after only a few weeks he runs away to Florida and finds love. "Firewood," the best story in this volume, is about the drunken father, now 61, and his painful realization that he is incapable of giving love. Banks is an accomplished technician who likes to show off. He's best when his subject matter is close to home and the storytelling process is not so intrusive. (Harper & Row, $15.95)

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