Email this review


 Seventeen stories, many of them short-shorts, with lots of surface play and several affecting fictions, often concerning women trapped between loss (especially of the father) and emotional abuse (especially by Christ-haunted relatives). In ``Everywhere My Father,'' an eight-year-old girl's father, who sleeps in the same bed with her (though with a rolled-up rug between them) dies in a fire, but the girl is never told that, and she looks for him everywhere. In a couple of other pieces--''He Walks on Top'' and ``You Find a Prince,'' the latter in the second person--the father is absent, and the female protagonist lives with her God-driven aunt: ``Aunt Rhody's reading the Bible to find out what tomorrow will bring.'' Brashler's women whirl through the world, sometimes surviving emotionally (as in the stories just summarized) and elsewhere either going grotesque or freezing up. In the title story, the woman is full of Jesus and the aftereffects of sexual abuse at the hands of her two brothers, who both died in accidents after ``Jesus had shown his anger.'' In ``You Turn You Around,'' a woman whose expression is mainly neutral, and who is more interested in cigarettes than in confrontation, accompanies a man to a Nevada whorehouse. A few pieces, such as ``Do It,'' a one- page instance, seem mere filler, but ``Wild Strawberry, a Snap-on Button Shirt, the Best She Ever Made'' reaches past the range of most to create empathy: here, a 53-year-old bachelor, Harris, looks for a woman by placing an ad in the Farmer's Gazette--he finds Esther and ends up marrying her. When she goes blind, Harris's love feels authentic and moves the reader. Although many of these have the feel of improvisations that aren't yet fully developed, Brashler, who is co-editor of StoryQuarterly, is a stylist of note whose strongest efforts capture an off-kilter, dangerous world.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-943433-06-1
Page count: 106pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991