Wednesday, April 11, 2007

LOVE HURTS--Barry Hoffman

There's good dark and bad dark. Fiction, that is. To me bad dark is fiction that tries too hard to be dark. Fiction written with the express purpose of BEING dark.

Fortunately there are writers like Barry Hoffman who use material that is of necessity dark. A group of friends watching as one of their own is assaulted by a gang? The girl at the prom who had her baby in the bathroom, dumped it in the wastecan, and then returned to the dance. A husband who can't quite deal with his wife's cancer. An a stunning story about soldiers who get sent back to Iraq again and again and again--

In the Sixties this type of fiction was described as having a "social conscience." I supoose that's true of these stories. But Hoffman isn't a preacher. He's an excellent storyteller and smooth stylist who lets the stories fend for themselbes--no sermons. And they're true stories, too, in the way that fiction is sometimes true. You'll recognize yourself and your friends in this fine collection. I sure did and I wsn't always comfortable doing it either.

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