HOW I CAME WEST, AND WHY I STAYED by Alison Baker

HOW I CAME WEST, AND WHY I STAYED

Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A first collection of stories with great first lines, usually followed by fictions as light as air--some antic or absurd, others delicate or touching. The title piece is one of the best: a good-humored comedy about an Indiana girl out West, a sort of bounty hunter looking for cheerleaders in the mountains who've never been seen but ``were part of the mountain mythology.'' ``Better Be Ready 'Bout Half Past Eight'' is both hilarious and moving: `` `I'm changing sex,' Zach said.'' That first line starts off an absurd chain of events as seen through the eyes of Zach's best friend. Zach, who becomes Zoe, is finally forced to say, ``I think you're letting this come between us.'' Baker's tone, light but not frothy, is just right. But those two stories are the high points here; others are slick entertainments, albeit with sober undercurrents: ``The Spread of Peace'' (first line: ``If peace spreads, Heather may lose her job'') is about a weapons designer at the end of the cold war who's also faced with a lump in her breast; ``My Life in the Frozen North'' is a mock explorer-narrative told by a young woman, ``the child of explorers,'' who learns that ``The law of life in the Frozen North is Eat,'' and comes to realize, sadly, that her parents ``discovered nothing''; and ``Clearwater and Latissimus'' is the moving story of Siamese twins, told by a naive (and ``normal'') fellow student. Other pieces here are shapeless or cutesy, but the best are luminous with verbal play and intimations of how ordinary strangeness can be. (Some have appeared in Atlantic, the Best of the West, New Stories from the South and various lit mags.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8118-0324-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993