What Do You Want From Me?

To borrow the title of her first book, What Do You Want From Me?, Doris Dörrie is still on the trail of ”love, pain, and the whole damn thing.” This slim new collection from the young German writer and filmmaker, who’s best known in this country for a hip 1985 farce called Men…, is full of strange, doomed love affairs. A woman hits it off with a crank caller. A man finds sympathy in the arms of a stranger on a train. A German journalist researching an article about ”the end of pop music” comes to the States and has a quickie affair with a ditsy New Waver named Box. Dörrie has a wry, defeatist take on love. Her best stories use cultural barriers as a metaphor for romantic ones and are filled with telling data about Genus Americanus. (”He waves as only an American can wave,” she writes, ”a semicircle with his whole arm that comes to an abrupt halt.”) Occasionally, though, Dorrie’s stories seem dated. ”Hollywood,” for instance, is a funny but routine foray into networking and coke. ”A Man!” — inspired by ancient and overpublicized statistics about the mate shortage — produces a groan, rather than a sigh, of recognition. One forgives Dorrie’s missteps. Foreign writers are bound to be lured into a couple of tourist traps. B

What Do You Want From Me?
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