Bette Pesetsky Mary Soete

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Mary Soete

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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.

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.