An Ambu­lance is on the Way: Sto­ries of Men in Trouble

  • Review
By – August 10, 2012

Wilson’s col­lec­tion of sto­ries about men in trou­ble, so des­ig­nat­ed, is a very mixed bag. Actu­al­ly, the male pro­tag­o­nists or sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers in these selec­tions are not all in trou­ble. Nor, despite the pub­lic­i­ty blurb, is it accu­rate to state that Wil­son gives us a nuanced pic­ture of the Amer­i­can hus­band and father.” Wil­son, born in Lon­don in 1950 and an Amer­i­can res­i­dent since 1976 (minus a four-year break in Jerusalem), writes also of life else­where. Tosh” with its exot­ic resort set­ting of Mag­a­luf, for the sin­gles scene; Moth­er With Child” set in Jerusalem, where a British bach­e­lor express­es his dis­dain for his elder­ly moth­er; Last Light,” offer­ing a Dublin scene, where­in a mid­dle-aged man vis­its his same-age cousin dying of can­cer, and they speak of old­en times and Jews as a van­ish­ing breed; and Fat Twins,” where much of the action is in Jamaica, and youths have their unin­hib­it­ed fling. 

Many of the sto­ries touch on Jew­ish con­cerns and have var­i­ous types of Jew­ish char­ac­ters. Moth­ers (as char­ac­ters) do not seem to fare well in his sto­ries. Aside from dis­play­ing a keen inter­est in sex­u­al activ­i­ty, Wil­son seems almost obsessed with ill­ness and hid­den pain on the part of his cre­ations, but per­haps that can be tied into his over­all treat­ment of the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence. Wilson’s writ­ing style involves plain, unadorned prose and com­mon­place, some­times friv­o­lous dia­logue. Although seri­ous sto­ries like Tosh” and Last Light” may be found here­in, oth­ers such as Lothar and Inez” and the title sto­ry seem a bit shallow.

Samuel I. Bell­man is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Cal­i­for­nia State Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­si­ty of Pomona. He has been writ­ing on Jew­ish Amer­i­can writ­ers since 1959.

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