VERGING ON THE PERTINENT: Short Stories by Carol Emshwiller


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New short stories by Emshwiller (Joy in Our Cause, 1974) continue her surreal and cockeyed explorations of art, angst, and feminine psychology. Most of Emshwiller's women inhabit a psychic no-man's land: they demand to be seen as whole individuals rather than female archetypes, they strive for psychic and intellectual development, and yet the old desires and values are never far away--they long to capture the love and attention of great men, to live on love. Emshwiller's offbeat vision--expressed through sharp yet deadpan delivery--makes use of fairy tale, fantasy, and metaphor: the protagonist of ""Yukon"" sees her unresponsive husband as an animal and finds temporary happiness keeping house for a bear who--after the initial grunts--at least knows how to snuggle and keep her warm; a cognitively advanced woman falls from another planet, but instead of being taken to the Earth's leader, she is trapped in the role of overeducated suburban housewife; the ""Woman of the Year,"" kept prisoner in a strange land, accepts the homage due her very large breasts and strikes lascivious poses while thinking she'd ""also like to be in some sort of policy-making situation."" Perhaps the best story is ""Being Mysterious Strangers from Distant Shores""--a very funny, on-target satire about contemporary tourists who hope to find themselves profoundly changed by a ""journey into the interior."" Original and piquant fictions--although, gathered in a single package, repetitive themes tend to dull the delight.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Coffee House