Chris Nashawaty
August 20, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When the Nines Roll Over

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
David Benioff
publisher
Viking
genre
Short Stories

We gave it an A-

David Benioff may be best known as the screenwriter of Brad Pitt’s homoerotic — sorry, Homeric — ”Troy,” but don’t hold that against him. When Benioff steers clear of Grecian formula, he’s an ace storyteller. Following his debut novel, ”The 25th Hour” (the basis for Spike Lee’s underseen and underrated 2002 film), this mostly fantastic collection When the Nines Roll Over kick-starts with the masterful title story, in which a music exec cherry-picks a sexy punk singer for stardom against the wishes of her drummer boyfriend. ”The Devil Comes to Orekhovo,” about a trio of Russian soldiers on night patrol in Chechnya, may be the best Hemingway story Hemingway never wrote. And the wistful ”Barefoot Girl in Clover” — an ex-jock’s reminiscences about a romance he now realizes was the love of his life — could teach even the Greeks (if not Pitt) something about tragedy.

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