LADIES WHO KNIT FOR A LIVING by Anthony E. Stockanes


Email this review


A tight vacuum surrounds Stockanes' stores, the enclosure which comes when characters are constantly facing today without ever having effectively dealt with messy yesterdays, in ""Mr. Eustice,"" a married sister makes an annual visit home to her invalided father and is discomforted by the prospect of a convenience-marriage between the remaining spinster sister and a neighbor; how exactly should the taking-care/being-taken-care-of equation henceforth be balanced? In ""A Simple Dying,"" a woman tells her prospective son-in-law of her husband's suicide in the most affectless (and scary) manner imaginable. Likewise, too, in ""Vandals,"" cemetery despoliation exacts a terrible wrench on the helpless living. But as true-to-feeling as they are, Stockanes' stories rarely end much differently than they begin, with the same determined illuminating of small losses in life. Two stories, though, just as humane as the rest, are additionally sped-up by higher-octane language. In the title story, an old Chicago businessman croons his September song with his secretary/mistress--only to eventually find out that she's been singing with a whole choir of his friends. And in ""The Trunk""--about a robust Rumanian Chicago-an who's felled by heart attacks and refuses so diminished a life--Stockanes lets fly that hyperbolic, sleeves-up style that marks him as a genuine Chicago prose-writer: ""Andulescu in hospital. The day should be purple-black, streaked with lightning. Dogs should be howling. He was suddenly aware of gaps in the day, missed the familiar bellow, the wave of the perpetually bare hairy arm. The street was normal, crowded, depressingly empty."" In these two instances, mood-indigo rises to neon-blue, and they're the best things in an uneven but solidly impressive collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press