by Leigh Allison Wilson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 16, 1988
Loss, dislocation, ahandonment--such are the sorrows in Wilson's moving fiction, plain-feeling stories in which regular people hazard ruin and doom, the ordinary risks of the heart. This Flannery O'Connor Award winner (for her first book, From the Bottom Up, 1983) here exorcises that ghost when the smart-talking narrator of ""Masse"" cracks, ""a good man wasn't hard to find if you were looking for one,"" and, of course, she isn't. Not with her job driving for UPS, and her nightly hustle at pool, a game that seems to parallel her life, with all its facts and angles. Though Wilson's stories have moved from the South, she knows trashiness whatever accent it speaks. Oswego, N.Y.--a town with a speedway, smokestacks, and a power plant--serves here as setting for a number of sorry tales, including the linked stories ""Where She Was"" and ""Missing Persons."" Together, these records of woe capture a young girl's confusion, her sense that something's wrong between her broodingly beautiful mother and her maniacally good-spirited father. When the mother runs off with a neighbor, the 11-year-old Susan must then endure the airheaded woman who takes her place. The narrator of ""Obscene Callers""--a 40-year-old woman ditched by a faithless husband--decides to confront her unhappiness head-on. But her attempt to make a new life--a reckless moment conceived in hope and good humor--turns nightmarish, ending in drunkenness and rape. A similar sense of irreparable loss and despair permeates the disturbing ""Women in the Kingdom,"" an unforgettable encounter between a lonely woman on the rebound in love and the two Jehovah's Witnesses she invites in to chat. The absence of family, made all the more poignant by her homosexuality, seems to promise never, ending pain, her own version of damnation and conflagration. Even biological bonds, though, prove tenuous in the novella-length title piece, in which a father's psychosis haunts the narrator, his daughter. Wit seldom deflects the bitterness in these dramas of botched emotions--stories that utter truth, as mean and messy as it often is.
Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1988
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988
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