three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

New Stories

A-FolliesNine short stories dabble in family conflict, random chances, and the relentless march of time. The novella "Flechette Follies" centers on a far-reaching accident between a nursing home attendant and a special-ops agent. In "The Rabbit Hole as Likely Explanation," two siblings deal with their mother’s slipping health after a stroke. In "Find and Replace," a daughter tries to accept her mother’s love affair. All characters must cope with the irony, pain, and joy of their familial bonds.
Scribner. 305 pages. $25. ISBN: 0743269616

Dallas Morning News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Follies is an unsettling and ambitious collection, fully utilizing Ms. Beattie’s great strengths of observation." Rick Bass

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Her characters are still free-floating and rooted to nothing, but like their creator, they’ve grown older. … Follies has the sleekness and clarity of Beattie’s early works, minus the ‘80s minimalism."
Ellen Kanner

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Emotional hibernation has become not just a favorite modus operandi, but an entire way of life. … [T]he tales in this volume showcase a newly flexible voice that accommodates both the author’s patented gift for social observation and her more recent interest in her characters’ inner lives…" Michiko Kakutani

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Her method remains distinctive and surprisingly fresh. It has even evolved, poking a bit into her characters’ personalities where it used to glide across their polished surfaces." Donna Rifkind

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2.5 of 5 Stars
"… the witty use of the detritus of life that once earmarked her fiction as contemporary—the crucial product placement or cultural reference—now seems banal." Sharon Dilworth

Critical Summary

No one can resist comparing Beattie’s grown baby boomers with their younger selves—the characters who appeared in her early short story collections. Those who were once young and aimless still lack direction—only in Follies, they’re much older. This time, the author has given them a past, which is refreshing, especially as they contemplate typical middle-age concerns (parents in nursing homes, children in trouble, failed relationships, etc.). Beattie’s careful language and dark wit is, as always, impressive and much appreciated. Overall, the shorter pieces received mixed reviews, although one story, "Apology for a Journey Not Taken," was universally panned.