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FIRST FICTION
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Short stories; Novels; Books-titles -- -Multiple review
Author: Hewett, Heather
Date: Jul 2, 2000
Start Page: X.06
Section: BOOK WORLD

[Nicholas Flokos]'s lyrical novel revels in the nuances and sounds of language. By choosing to narrate the story from the perspective of the island community, he successfully translates the chant-like strophes and antistrophes of a Greek chorus into a more free-flowing narrative. Initially refreshing, the perspective of the community's "we" becomes heavier as the story continues. Yet the poetry of the wordplay opens up metaphoric meanings, connecting the statue Nike to the Nike corporation, whose swoosh logo is omnipresent on tourists' shoes and clothing. Nike's perspective on imperialism remains allusive, sidestepping polemic by relying on poetry's power of suggestion.

In The Fundamentals of Play (Random House, $24.95), Caitlin Macy follows the lives of Dartmouth graduates living in Manhattan. The story, well-written and thoroughly conceived, is narrated by George Lenhart, who finds himself on the fringe of an Upper East Side group with whom he went to school. Weaving past and present, Lenhart unfolds a Great Gatsby for the 1990s. As with Nick Carraway, the narrator in Fitzgerald's classic tale, Lenhart's perspective allows for a complex mix of ironic detachment and suppressed desire.

Taftly may remind readers of Ignatius J. Reilly, the overweight misfit in John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. In [Scott Morris]'s episodic tale, our hero loses weight and abandons college, instead becoming a regular at Copiah Harper Tavern. Morris's postmodern riff on Toole never quite achieves a life of its own. Instead, his clever allusions escape his control: the introduction of Taftly's friend Dennis, a parodic Boswell to Taftly's Johnson, leads to metatextual twists and turns that leave the reader floundering.

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