Gregory Spatz, Wonderful Tricks. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Mid-List Press, 2002. $15.00 paper (ISBN 0-922811-55-5), 247 pages.
Reviewed by Kate Harding
In “Stone Fish,” a story in Gregory Spatz’s recent collection, Wonderful Tricks, a strange woman appears by the side of a pond where a lonely teenaged boy spends his afternoons skating and, after very little introduction, pulls him into a furious kiss. By way of explanation, she offers, “I’m responding to your need--your unhappiness and need. That’s all.”
This moment goes to the heart of Wonderful Tricks, a series of riffs on human connection and disconnection as witnessed, primarily by young boys learning to mask their emotional vulnerabilities and grown men re-learning to reveal them. Spatz’s male characters, young and old, are hesitant to give of themselves--they know that way lies pain and loss--but desperate for closeness. And they are suckers for mysterious women who tantalize them with bold sexuality and striking insights into their weaknesses, only to eventually leave them just as lonely as they began....
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