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Wheeler is a first-rate stylist, and her writing is full of vividness and surprise. This is one of the most promising first collections of short fiction we've seen in some time. The first story, "Improving My Average," was originally published in The Missouri Review. Afghan Tales by Oleg Yermakov William Morrow and Company, 1993, 205 pp., $20 Oleg Yermakov writes of the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan from the standpoint of a veteran in Afghan Tales. He has been compared to Tim O'Brien, veteran and chronicler of the American involvement in Vietnam, and indeed this collection is reminiscent of O'Brien's The Things They Carried. "Mars and the Soldier" is one of the finest stories in the collection. In one way or another, aU the stories in Afghan Tales are about the same reconnaissance company, but a thin thread links them. Each story has a distinct set of characters, and almost half of the stories take place in the Soviet Union, as soldiers return from the war in "A Feast on the Bank of a Violet River," or as their loved ones at home try to cope with their absence or return in "The Snow Covered House" and "The Yellow Mountain." Many of Yermakov's tales are not about war only; in a larger sense, they explore the Russian mind. m'ëff VTM Reviews by: JT, JS, TK, LO, KS, SM, PG, ES, BR, CL. REMAINDERS & REMINDERS Sam Stowers I enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and the New York Times Book Review or, better still to my taste, the Hungry Mind Review. But, like a forty-year-old watching MTV, my pleasure is cramped by reminders that I don't fit the audience paradigm. The ads just don't sing to me. I can't imagine spending twenty-five dollars for a book I haven't already read at least once. Consequently, I spend more time in libraries and second-hand bookstores or at remainder tables than I do at bookstores carrying only new titles. Besides, the books that get reviewed are almost always new books in the throes of first printing . What with the publicity packets, money pressures from advertising, deadlines and spur-of-the-moment editorial decisions, reviews—often a patchwork of comments cribbed from other reviews and phrases borne on the winds of the Zeitgeist— are not always the best way to meet the best books. It is no wonder many of the titles on the remainder table are more satisfying than some of those displayed in the window. This column was conceived as an answer to my complaints about reviews. Although I hope this will introduce new titles to you, most of the books I will mention have been in print for years and are now generaUy available only in libraries, or occasionally in second-hand and rare bookstores and on remainder tables. Without the discipUne of the marketplace to drive me, I have little plan to my comments. I will try to keep them brief. If you find the column helpful, be so kind as to share your favorite titles with me in care of The Missouri Review. 218 · The Missouri Review I came across a hardcover copy of Charles Willeford's last Hoke Moseley mystery, The Way We Die Now (Random House, 1988) lying on a remainder table this summer. Synchronicity ? The stories of the Miami tourist murders had begun to capture headlines and broadcast time. For years, I've been thinking about the way Miami has succeeded Los Angeles as the capital of America 's dark night of the soul in crime fiction. I had been looking for hardcover editions of WiUeford's work. My tattered mass-market paperbacks of his quartet of Hoke Moseley mysteries (Miami Blues, New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe, and The Way We Die Now) were deconstructing. In hardcover, the first two were pubUshed by St. Martin's Press, and the third and fourth by Random House. Of all the writers touted as heirs to Hammett, Chandler and Ross MacDonald , Willeford comes closest to fiUing the shoes. Unlike Chandler, WiUeford's plain prose advances the story without the pricking simile...


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pp. 218-220
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