Books by Robin Beeman

A MINUS TIDE by Robin Beeman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

One of a slim little pair (see Huddle, below) in this publisher's novella series: author of the collection A Parallel Life (1992), Beeman labors here to rise above the saccharine. For method, she has chosen to write brief chapters as ``spoken'' by a rotating variety of characters, and let there be a caveat to that reader who takes no pleasure in waiting patiently to find out who's who and what's happened. Time and chapters will reveal, though, that, somewhere in northern California, Mattie (who paints) is married to Evan, though she did also love also-artist Gordon and go to stay in Italy with him when he was dying of a brain tumor; that lawyer Joel (`` `I think this acknowledgement of mine that I'm an animal helps me attract women' '') was married to Anna, then wasn't, then fell in love with troubled and unstable Sallywho died by driving off a cliffand then re-hitched with Anna again; that Anna herself used to be a nun (``On the day I first met Anna, when she told me she'd once been a nun, it knocked me out'') and nevertheless did (when still a nun) have an affair with Mark (a priest); and that Mattiemarried to Evan but still mourning the gone Gordonis the sister of Sally, whose death causes Joel's peroration, `` `What's fair? Sally's dead. A fragile spirit is dead,' '' followed by: ``He began to sob, huge choking sobs that set his chest heaving.'' Writing that's earnest but unseasoned; to borrow a metaphor from wine, this has promise but isn't yet quite ready for decanting. Read full book review >
A PARALLEL LIFE by Robin Beeman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 6, 1992

A debut collection of ten stories, including the title novella: sparse yet vivid fictions dealing mostly with end-moves following diagnoses of cancer, or with other steps in the grieving process. The title novella concerns a librarian, ostensibly happily married, who gets involved in a long-term affair with an insurance salesman whose wife is struggling with cancer. ``We don't get the lives we want,'' the lover sums up; the narrator includes gracefully interpolated episodes from other portions of the librarian's life—a mother whose use of the rosary provides a summarizing image, a father who left the family long ago. Of the shorter stories here, ``Life Signs'' is a delicate, atmospheric account of a woman with terminal cancer who's camping on a deserted beach with her husband; and ``Secrets'' forces Cooper to relive his grief over his father's death, again from cancer, while facing the death of his old dog. ``UFO'' is a memorable tale about a group of alien-theory devotees who meet in the desert: ``...only a few minutes from the very place where we now sit, Dwight David Eisenhower met with the leader of an alien force from outer space.'' Beeman is at her best, in fact, when she juxtaposes ordinary lives with such odd, quixotic situations to good metaphoric effect: In ``Taking Fire,'' an adolescent narrator is fascinated by town gossip concerning two lovers who died in a parked car. In ``Burning Joan,'' two youngish girls, not the ``saintly types,'' talk together unself-consciously while intimations of a larger world are represented as the girls decide, for reasons nicely implied rather than stated, to set fire to their dolls. The collection itself seems to be a step in a long grieving process, but there's enough offbeat comedy and touching reminiscence here to avoid lugubriousness. Read full book review >