LET ME BE THE ONE by Elisabeth Harvor


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 Better known in her native Canada, Harvor collects eight well- written stories, all of which turn on her evocative title--the plea of an anxious woman, full of longing and short on self-esteem. Harvor's women, almost all divorced and middle-aged, dwell in the purgatory of wanting both passionate companions and self- contained solitude. They live largely in their imaginations: The poet of ``Love Begins with Pity,'' a divorced mom, fearing those ``serial killers'' known as ``time and despair''--moons for a young man in her evening class. Equally hyper-self-aware is the divorced mother of ``How Will I Know You?,'' who, unable to sleep after a potential affair fizzles, seeks a psychic herbalist around whom she constructs a wild scenario. Two stories (``There Goes the Groom'' and ``Freakish Vine that I Am'') concern a daydreaming, disorganized woman who, in the first, divorces her husband and boldly rejects alimony; and in the second, notices the sense of unhappiness of her now-remarried ex and worries what she'll do after her children have fled the nest. Yet two more divorcÇes grapple with middle age in ``Mad Maze Made by God'' and ``Two Women: The Interviews'': One marries a man widowed by suicide, and tempers her sexual desire with her hope for her son's ``safe passage through all of life''; the other ponders the ironies of her divorce soon after discovering mutual orgasm with her husband. Younger women, as worried and self-concerned as the rest, are the focus of splendid pieces: A nursing student can't abide the obvious favoritism her mother shows her much prettier sister and her roommate, who actually bears a checkered sexual past (``Invisible Target''); and a woman in analysis broods on her adolescent incest with her brother, and on her fears concerning her distant parents (``Through the Fields of Tall Grasses''). Touching, and more sharp than clever, these fine stories mock their eerie ironies and invite us to share their powerfully rendered concerns.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1997
ISBN: 0-00-224554-X
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997