Mazza's second collection (after Animal Acts, 1989): fifteen stories mainly about young women faced with violence, or...

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IS IT SEXUAL HARASSMENT YET?

Mazza's second collection (after Animal Acts, 1989): fifteen stories mainly about young women faced with violence, or varieties of sexual attraction, that are (with one or two exceptions) examples of a promising young writer with nothing special to write about. The title story, originally published in American Fiction, is the best. Written in two columns to emphasize its double point of view, it's about a waitress who eventually gives a satisfying comeuppance to the male supervisor who harasses her. ""Attack at Dawn"" is an interesting take on the old standby theme of animals growing strange to their keepers: here, a rooster grows ""war feathers"" and squares off against the narrator, who finally cries ""You're not even you anymore!"" The remaining pieces, however, tend toward tediousness (""Second Person,"" in which an undergraduate narrator meets a band director ""with a smile like a window flung open"" and, camera in hand, obsesses about him) or cuteness (""My Priest Story,"" in which a female narrator tells emergency-room stories to her lover in bed). Some of the rest are too predictable in their trendy knee-jerk Weltschmerz (""The Kind of Sadness Which Makes You Sad,"" about a student-teacher narrator who sits at her supervising teacher's kitchen table while he and his wife pick over the bones of their marriage: ""Maybe you'll get another chance,"" the narrator tells the wife. ""That's what I'm hoping for. That's all we can hope for""). In yet other stories, such as ""The Family Bed,"" a powerful scene--in this case, a home birth--is embedded in a derivative style (here, the working-class milieu of Raymond Carver). Overall, then, a follow-up collection (some first published in New Letters, Cimarron Review, and Fiction International) that has not been given enough time to age.

Pub Date: March 15, 1991

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Fiction Collective Two--dist. by Talman

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1991