Mary Soete

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 155

When a character in the title story [of "Stories Up to a Point"] declares that "misery is specific," he could be stating this collection's epigraph. These are first-person tales narrated in a sardonic, slightly depressed voice with the hatchet-edged impact of simple declarative sentences. They have the sort of disarming artifice that seizes attention: shocking misfortunes announce themes that are not pursued; stories of dissecting satire carry titles like "Ulcer," "Scratch," and "Dyslexia." Pesetsky's people collect and document dust; write pamphlets, graphs, business letters of regret, threat, or supplication; are victimized by anonymous commuter abuse, city crazies, their own disconnected families. Funny, absurd, and troubling—the most refreshing challenge to the traditional boundaries of the short story since Barthelme.

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Mary Soete, in a review of "Stories Up to a Point," in Library Journal (reprinted from Library Journal, February 15, 1982; published by R. R. Bowker Co. (a Xerox company); copyright © 1982 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 107, No. 4, February 15, 1982, p. 474.

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