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The Harry and Sylvia Stories.

Each of Welch Everman's thirteen short stories presents a different side of relationships in the modern milieu. Although the stories can be read separately, the text is unified by the recurring presence in each story of characters named Harry and Sylvia. In each story Harry is clearly a different persona but his adventures - or rather, misadventures - unite each fragmented part into a whole character. Unlike Harry, Sylvia never narrates a story but instead is the object, cause, or an active participant in Harry's schemes. From his voyeuristic collection of snapshots of a naked unknown female (Sylvia), through his paranoid fear of squirrels, to his quest for a perfect sandwich (made of course by an elusive Sylvia), Harry tramps through the corridors of modern dating and his experiences range from complete absurdity to a breakdown in communication.

Everman's book succeeds because he masterfully blends the stories together through his use of humor and paranoia to show the absurdities and sometimes sad drift of relationships. Harry can be a buffoon, a dreamer, a lonely salesman, or a middle-aged man concerned only with the scores of Sunday football games, and in each instance Harry is searching for something missing in his life: a meaningful relationship with Sylvia even when she does not appear in a story except as a fleeting image, a frustrated housewife, or a respondent to a personal ad. Everman's stories capture the dysfunctional trend between couples and their relationships and his observations about buses, telephones, and tree houses are some of his many hilarious insights into contemporary American romance.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Schneider, Brian
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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