BOOKS: The Undeclared Wars of Men

Ethan Canin's fine stories plumb the search for male identity

The war between the sexes does not particularly concern Ethan Canin. While other writers chronicle that battle, as well as the myriad conflicts that ignite female relationships, Canin stalks the less traveled turf -- at home, at work and at play -- where men wage undeclared hostilities against one another. In The Palace Thief (Random House; 205 pages; $21), a superb collection of four novellas, as in his acclaimed earlier fiction (Emperor of the Air, Blue River), Canin also reminds us of a more interior battle: the struggle among men to discover who they really are.

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