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Salvatore Difalco is a talented storyteller who writes unique and frequently anomalous tales in a distinctly matter-of-fact manner. This collection leads off with the gritty and haunting “Alicia,” a horrific portrait of senseless violence and poverty. It can be hard to take, but for all its exploitative titillation it manages to be quite an affecting piece of fiction. More baffling is “The Venetian,” a meandering quandary of a tale that pulls you in only to quietly deceive you. The whole thing is executed in an unusually understated manner–a fairly nifty device, but one that also causes the piece to drag a bit. The title piece comes last, and follows a paroled young offender grappling with his thirst for revenge and his desire to continue his life “outside.” Sort of a Catcher in the Rye for felons, it combines street-toughness with touching introspection and a hint of occasional snideness. At this point, Difalco is still a developing writer, and this collection certainly isn’t perfect; however, as far as amateur fiction goes, Outside is an intriguing specimen. (Michael Tau)

litzine, Salvatore Difalco, $8, Black Bile Press, 573 Gainsborough Ave., Ottawa, ON, K2A 2Y6, Canada, firth@istar.ca, www.ardentdreams.com/blackbilepress

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