Midair is a collection of eight short stories by Frank Conroy (Stop-Time) that opens with a tour-de-force, the title story "Midair," and proceeds in fits and starts thereafter. Some sentences and perceptions in this collection are breathtaking, some sentences and perceptions are more or less narrative filler. The fundamental ethos of Conroy's writing--when I say this I include Stop-Time--seems to be the contradiction between nostaligic, youthful idealism (how things ought to be in a reasonably decent world) and mature disenchantment (how things play out in middle age.) This sets up a number of piquant contrasts that puzzle, disappoint, and occasionally uplift Conroy's typical male protagonist.
The strength of the story "Midair" is its effortless combination--almost novelistic in scope--of narrative sequences that trace the experience of a boy to a man to a father. Conroy has a wonderful way of asserting fresh scenes, with no expository "continuity," that pinpoint crucial moments in his protagonist's development (moral and psychological, but primarily moral.)
But one great story doesn't justify an entire collection.
Causes Robert Earle Supports
World Wildlife Fund