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John Irving

These stories are well written and rather depressing. That makes them, I guess, rather representative of what one might call the current state of short-story writing by urban males. One thinks immediately of recent collections by Garry Disher and Nick Earls. There seem to be a few basic starting off points, the most notable being in the delineation of defensiveness and insecurities that give the male characters, who are often the narrators, a sensitive but decidedly uptight response to, well, almost everything. Women, parents, children (their own), and particularly the drab world that has snuffed out some early spark of liveliness or vitality (which is usually rubbed for sympathetic magic in moments of nostalgic recall).

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