Allan Gurganus’ name is rarely mentioned without some allusion to his late mentor, John Cheever, and this collection of stories, with its sad introspective grace, only strengthens that association. This is not to say that White People is humorless. ”America Competes,” which was written in 1976, consists of appalling applications to the ”National Fundament of the Arts.” By the end of the story, all grant money has been diverted to the defense budget, and the NFA has been taken over by a former VP of Boeing Aircraft. ”Nativity, Caucasian” is a farce about a baby born in the midst of a bridge party. If some of these stories strain too hard for laughs that’s because, like Cheever, Gurganus is at his best when his stories mix light and dark tones. It’s then that he captures the ambivalence of ”life as it is practiced on this particular handsome side street in this particular dwindling country.” A-

White People
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