LOOK OUT FOR HYDROPHOBIA: Stories by Betsy Wing

LOOK OUT FOR HYDROPHOBIA: Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Occasionally stunning but often maddeningly trivial debut collection. Wing can be an astonishing stylist, bringing clarity, delicacy, and mystery to her probing of human emotion: ""Possum Triptych,"" almost a prose poem, explores the way a woman at different points in her life interprets value through her encounters with possums; ""Those Are Pearls"" beautifully evokes the magical dislocation of a year abroad--during which time the protagonist's father dies, her husband cheats, and she prepares for the eventual losses and betrayals that will come from her new pregnancy. But too many of these stories are merely trendy (""Choosing Fathers,"" for instance, about a single woman planning to conceive a child through artificial insemination). Others (""Dirty Pictures,"" about residents of a nursing home; ""Look Out for Hydrophobia,"" in which a young woman whose self-esteem is battered by her husband eventually learns he walks through the neighborhood urinating on fire hydrants) come to zany, disturbing conclusions without being sharp or satirical enough to keep the characters from seeming familiar and flat. The novella (""Mayday, Jones' Garden"") puts a narcissistic young woman on an island off the Maine coast for an outdoors survival test; she faces danger from Nature and from Man, but the story lacks momentum as the narrative constantly shifts to explore the not terribly interesting lives of every cardboard character in the vicinity. Wing betrays her genuine gift for language and insight when she strives for popular subject and style: an uneven collection by a writer of obvious talent.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol