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 Thirteen stories, comprising Osborn's third collection (A Horse of Another Color, Fields of Memory) that are mainly set in Mexico and the Southwest and concern women faced with love and inevitable loss. ``The Grands,'' an O. Henry winner, is about the attempt to reconstruct the past in a story of the early 20th century told by a grandmother to the narrator. ``The truth,'' the narrator comes to see, ``is sometimes a poor, sad thing.'' The title novella focuses on Tim Warren, an expatriate history professor in Mexico (``At least in Mexico they didn't tear up the cities''). His wife has left him, taking their two children; and now his current lover, Sara, is exasperated with him after incessant arguments. The story climaxes when the two are surprised by four armed Indians. In his haste to escape, Warren nearly runs one of them over, and in the wake of the incident decides to return ``to his own violent country.'' Other southwestern stories include ``Cowboy Movie'': the narrator Elise moves to the West from London when she ``conceived a great hunger for space.'' The myth of the West is then juxtaposed to the reality with a vengeance, and Osborn makes apt use of a documentary movie being made about her cowboy acquaintances as a metaphor for the distance between myth and truth. Of the rest, ``The Gardener'' is emblematic of the book's tone. A narrator studies a gardener across the street, first voyeuristically, then with more interest when he brings her a flower: ``I wilt. I need to be loved as much as anyone.'' In ``Songs People Sing When They're Alone,'' similarly, the narrator's lost a lover, and the story delicately sketches out her situation, while in ``Graffitti,'' a 50-year-old woman meets a lover of 30 years earlier, and the reunion turns out to be a pleasant one. Gentle stories, then, good with setting and themes of loss.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87565-084-8
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991


NonfictionDURATIONS by Carolyn Osborn
by Carolyn Osborn