CATHOLIC GIRLS by Amber Coverdale Sumrall

CATHOLIC GIRLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Not, as the title suggests, about Catholic girlhood per se, but rather about girls and young women who rebel against their religious upbringing. Fifty-two stories, poems, and memoirs comprise this anthology, which lets little stand in the way of its political agenda. A handful of pieces speak well of ordinary faith, most notably Sharon Meyer's delightful ``The Forbidden List,'' about a bishop who encourages intellectual freedom (``I rollerskated home, weighed down with forbidden books and self-esteem''). Mostly, however, the authors are gunning for the Church. Jane Kremsreiter writes of a girl who expurgates the Bible of sexist language; Maura Stanton remembers bitchy nuns; editor Sumrall, a poet from California (as is co-editor Vecchione), describes a priest in the confessional who rants about French kissing. A poem by Kathleen Guillaume mixes Christian imagery and violence (``Her hairpin scoops into me/scrapes me clean/...Soon it will be May/the month of Mary''). Joyce Goldenstern offers a depressing tale of physical misfits (``My father is missing a leg. My mother is missing a breast'') and parochial school. There are some big names here, all offering book excerpts: Mary Gordon, Louise Erdrich, Francine Prose, Mary McCarthy. Otherwise, the editors, using a narrow-band magnet (``we placed calls for material in many feminist publications and writers' magazines''), draw in material largely from small-press publications and original contributions. The overriding emotional tone is drizzly, with rumblings of thunder and occasional outbursts of lighting, encapsulated perfectly in the anthology's last sentence, from Kristina McGrath's ``Housework'': ``I should have been a pagan, she said to herself, a few years later, and began a rosary...as she caught her hand in the wringer and screamed.'' ``Even now,'' the editors declare, ``the church is still threatened by our voices.'' Perhaps--but this anthology will provoke more yawns than yelps.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1992
ISBN: 0-452-26842-7
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992




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