Peter LaSalle: Master of the Short Story Form
One of America's most accomplished short fiction writers, Peter LaSalle, has a new collection out from the University of Georgia Press. It's called Tell Borges If You See Him, it won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and it's a marvel of modern storytelling, slipping back and forth in time, featuring a variety of fascinating characters, from a troubled college hockey player to an out-of-work businessman. The writing is absolutely lovely, with comparisons to Nabokov not hyperbolic. LaSalle has a way of seeming postmodern and yet traditional because he employs some interesting narrative tricks in the service of the characters, not just to be flashy. A personal favorite is "Brilliant Billy Dubbs on the Ocean Floor," which begins "It was tough to stay dead like that. And who cared if everybody said that his had been a long life, making it until eighty-two? Who cared if they had all taken their own consolation in convincing themselves of such." Losing yourself in this collection is a little like losing yourself in a dream the details of which are sharper than those in the real world. A sentence can cut and a sentence can heal in LaSalle's reality, and he knows which is which. It's no wonder that in addition to appearing in some of the most prestigious literary magazines in the country, LaSalle has also had work picked up by Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O'Henry Awards.