Aliens of Affection marks new territory for Padgett Powell, picking up where his first collection of stories, Typical, left off. Although his characters continue to revolt against the received instructions of modern American living--refusing to be dunked in what Saul Bellow has called the "marinade of correctness"--their concerns are less for ...
Aliens of Affection marks new territory for Padgett Powell, picking up where his first collection of stories, Typical, left off. Although his characters continue to revolt against the received instructions of modern American living--refusing to be dunked in what Saul Bellow has called the "marinade of correctness"--their concerns are less for indepence than for the maintenance of sanity itself. In this sometimes surrealistic terrain, "affection was that which, and the only thing on earth which, you should be eternally thankful for." Emotional estrangement seems both inevitable and worth fighting against to the middle-aged heroine of O. Henry Award-winner "Trick or Treat;" to the unmistakably American roofer of "Wayne" (who was introduced in Typical); to the deserted husband, father, and non-vet of "Dump;" and to the fantastic heroes in three stories grouped as "All Along the Watchtower." The nine stories collected here are hilarious, wrenching, pessimistic, buoyant, low-down, high-strung, and impeccably written.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-09-29 Shunted one way or another to the margins of the New South, the characters in these witty but often formulaic nine stories struggle for something approaching love and acceptance. As Mr. Albemarle, a character in the title story says: "Affection was that which, and the only thing on earth which, you should be eternally thankful for." In "Trick or Treat," the collection's best offering, a neglected housewife embodies this principle by seducing a 12-year-old neighborhood "Lolito." In "Scarlotti and the Sinkhole," a man injured (and possibly brain-damaged) in a highway accident yearns for a connection with the pretty clerk at his local liquor store. The connection comes, but only as he slides farther and farther from reality. The "Wayne" chronicles re-introduce, in a series of funny, surprisingly sympathetic vignettes, the redneck roofer and dreamer readers first met in Typical, Powell's first collection. Powell writes in hyperactive prose, borrowing language from commercials and employing characters who speak and think through a fog of non sequiturs and TV allusions; now and then their (gloriously rendered) trash-talk seems to interest Powell more than the people who generate it. Hip, sexy and playful throughout, only in its weakest stories does this collection sacrifice warmth for flippancy. Rights:: Janklow and Nesbit. (Jan.)
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