Put on your thinking cap before you read these stories; they're EXTREMELY literary. I read excerpts from "A Poetics for Bullies" in a writing book and was intrigued by the originality of the premise. Push, the bully, doesn't physically abuse the sissies, dumb kids, kids who wear glasses, and cripples he picks on as psychologically torment them. That is until he meets his match, a smart kid who won't be bullied. Elkin can be ironic as well as in "On a Field Rampant," a psychological story preying on that feeling all of us have had at one time or another that we were switched at birth, about a man whose father treats him like a prince (he has a pendant to prove it). He wanders the world searching for his inheritance but when he finds it, he is livid. I was most impressed by Elkin's endings; in a preface, he talks about how hard he worked on them; one of them ends with a wink, another with a father's recollection of the look on his son's face when a co-worker catches him stealing. Elkin also has a very unusual sense of humor. "Perlmutter at the East Pole" is about a crazy explorer who has been everywhere except New York City, the east pole in the title. While there he meets Rose Gold, a blue-haired old lady that he brushes up against on the subway, whom he decides to seduce. Yes, Elkin will force you to think. You can't read these stories and forget about them. What did that wink mean at the end of "Cousin Poor Lesley and the Lousy People"? Why is the boy in "On a Field, Rampant" angry at the end of the story?
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