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Working Men

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Working Men Michael Dorris (Henry Holt, $19.95) Lonely salesmen, skewed families, ghosts, soldiers at war, and a delightful fugitive on the run with two elephants populate these 14 short stories that are as crystalline as poetry. The sadness of the earlier tales sets off such happier pieces as ”Oui,” a silly little O. Henry kind of romance about a high school football coach who’s also the French teacher, though he knows no French. Dorris writes in the distinct voices of his characters: The traveling salesman describes his best clients as ”people so bored that they sit around their houses waiting for Jehovah’s Witnesses to drop by.” The despair in these narratives is eased by richness of detail and spurts of exuberant human contact. A- -DAB