THE SOURCE OF TROUBLE: Stories by Debra Monroe


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Debut collection of a recent Flannery O'Connor Award winner--ten stories that introduce a distinctive stylist whose bumpy-jumpy yet fluid prose tells of small-town and rural women who don't quite understand the trouble they're in as they hurry through relationships with men. Amelia, of ""My Sister Had Seven Husbands,"" may hold the record for number of marriages, but the other women in the collection fall in and out of love just as fast: Janie, the bright high-school gift in ""The Joe Lewis Story,"" has sex in a vacant lot hours after meeting a man she's been told is wanted in Indiana and ""treats women like shit""; the bartender in ""Enough"" takes up with a no-good boyfriend right after her alcoholic husband (who proposed the night they met and later drove her to acts of violence) leaves; Ava, the young widow drug-seller in ""Starbuck,"" leaves her children and runs off with the stranger who breaks her nose. Monroe presents these ever-hopeful lost souls with engaging humor and sympathy. The collection has a remarkably unified tone over all--which is eventually a problem, however, as so much acting on impulse without insight becomes wearing. ""Trouble"" and ""The Widower's Psalm"" stand out: characters develop relationships, perhaps not wisely, but over time and with some basis other than sex; the resulting joys and heartaches are moving, not merely inevitable. Monroe's voice, with its quirky leaps from the colloquial into poetry, can go the distance, bat she'd do well to expand her territory.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press