cover image Rescue & Other Stories

Rescue & Other Stories

Stephen O'Connor, Stephen O'Conner. Harmony, $17.95 (180pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57203-0

This first collection of 12 short stories has a certain intellectual appeal that may compensate for its lack of emotional vigor. O'Connor's artificial prose is most jarring in ``Dad; or the Builder of Bridges,'' a Stanley Elkin-like tall tale about a son who brings a miniaturized version of his father home for a visit and is subjected to the elderly man's venomous diatribes. The slightly bizarre ``Loyal Channa'' is narrated by a power-hungry castrato, the former servant of Prince Siddhartha, who describes how he shaped the direction of the future Buddha's life. ``The Afterlife of Lytton Swain,'' one of several stories dealing with spiritual metamorphosis, recounts how a hypocritical clergyman dies, enters purgatory and acts out a skewed parody of his life since ``these were the only terms in which he could conceive of his existence.'' The author is at his best in the surreal title story, which describes the out-of-body experiences of a dying skier trapped by an avalanche and includes a poignant imaginary encounter with the skier's wife. (May)