Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Here beneath Low-Flying Planes

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Here beneath Low-Flying Planes

Article excerpt

Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes, by Merrill Feitell. Iowa, October 2004. $15.95

It's not hard to see why Matthew Klam, himself a master at capturing love's double-edged sword, chose this spirited collection as the winner of the 2004 Iowa Short Fiction Award. Like Klam's debut, Sam the Cat (Random House, 2000), Feitell's is hip and funny, but it's more varied and more subtle, presenting a range of voices-young and old, male and female, married and single-that ask for more from themselves and from the world. Each of the eight stories takes place within a single, focused event-Thanksgiving, a bike race, a birthday party. This formula makes for a strong, distinctive style, and also for a stage on which lifetimes of hope and doubt are played out-the stories may be small in frame, but they're vast in scope. In "It Couldn't Be More Beautiful," the wise, wise-cracking fourteen-year-old narrator mourns the loss of her older sister to a boyfriend, craving at the end of the story "the warmth of her undivided affections." In "And Then You Stand Up," a professor scarred by a car accident caused by her "overdue and botched clamoring for love" gains unexpected perspective from her best friend's eleven-year-old daughter, who has entered puberty overnight. …

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