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The Queen of Puerto Rico and Other Stories

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A radio- noir storyteller with a Rod Serling-like voice and a Kafkaesque sensibility, Joe Frank has produced and performed programs for National Public Radio off and on since 1979. Frank enthusiasts will be itching to know whether his first collection of stories (which includes adaptations of his radio work) holds its own without the support of his menacing FM delivery and evocative musical accompaniment. It does. Sentences like ”We find Poole hermetically sealed in a phone booth” typify his comically deadpan style. But the quality of Frank’s fiction, like that of his monologues, is wildly inconsistent. The Queen of Puerto Rico and Other Stories confirms what Frank’s listeners already know: At his astringent best, he’s unequaled, but his worst stories seem to have been written when he had nothing in particular to say. B