Picks and Pans Review: Lust

UPDATED 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Susan Minot

A woman describes her boyfriend: "Frank was not a candidate for the long run. He might just as well have been wearing a banner which said FRIVOLITY. He had supreme confidence and an inviolate manner. It was just what I was looking for." That pretty well sums up the tone of this collection of short stories. Most of them involve young New York City women talking about the men in their lives, with a prevailing subtext that addresses varying aspects of the question, Why can't we sweet, sensitive women find any men as nice and communicative as we are? Mi-not, to judge from this book, does not sound like someone a carefree yuppie guy would want to run into in a dark singles bar some night, though she relieves some of the sexist tedium with share-the-blame wit. "My sister-in-law consoles me," another of her women comments. " 'All men are rats,' she says and smoothes my brother's forehead adoringly. 'Even the angels.' "

This volume, though, lacks the power of Monkeys, Minot's 1986 novel of a troubled New England family. Many of the stories, brief as they are, go on a sentence or two too long, like songs to which someone insists on adding shave-and-a-haircut endings. And 32 of the book's 147 pages are blank or contain only a story title, which suggests padding—and that unwary buyers ought to be entitled to a rebate of $3.69. (Houghton Mifflin, $16.95)

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