Among the several literary careers that have started off strongly in the last five or six years, that of John Sayles is unusual and interesting. At a time when the general drift of American prose seems to be through baroque toward rococo, and the drift of narrative from psychopathological melodrama into fable and fantasy, Mr. Sayles is a revivalist of realism, old-time and unabashed.
This declaration could be supported comfortably on the evidence of Mr. Sayles' 1977 novel, "Union Dues." There will be some exceptions to it noted in describing ["The Anarchists' Convention"], a collection of short stories….
The first of the 15 stories, "Home for Wayfarers,"… is a slice-of-life piece, which displays a group of young women temporary office workers in Boston, as arbitrarily assorted as the members of a wartime infantry squad…. It's a display piece for a fine ear and deft control of characters….
Though Mr. Sayles is generally more likely to spare his characters than condemn them, the third piece, "Schiffman's Ape," a well-imagined and well-researched account of a pair of field zoologists, is a little jarring in its hostility toward the scientists. In the fourth we are back again with blue-collar women, this time on a bowling night, and the directing of our sympathies in once more easy to take.
Then there is a pas de deux story called "The Cabinet Maker," in which readers of...
(The entire section is 462 words.)