THE HOTTEST NIGHT OF THE CENTURY by Glenda Adams

THE HOTTEST NIGHT OF THE CENTURY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Short story collection, released simultaneously with Adams' novel (see above): a dozen rather slight stories, some experimental in structure, few more than ten pages in length. In the title piece, the narrator is born on "the hottest night of the century"--the same night her father is brought to the mental hospital for observation after trying to swim from Australia to New Zealand or possibly Chile. She recalls childhood memories, including her cruelties to her little brother and an exchange with her father: "I don't know why I try to keep on living," to which she answers "So why do you?" shortly before he drowns. The events are all recounted in a matter-of-fact tone, drawing no links or conclusions. Most of the stories are somewhat feminist, whether surreal in tone ("The Music Masters": a girl's artistic aspirations are thwarted by the men in her life who use both high and low culture as shield and weapon against her; "The Hollow Woman": a woman in training to be a princess is taught to be motionless, to humble herself, to support pain and discomfort without a word) or realistic ("Wedding"; "Marguerite"; "Summer in France": all sketches of unsatisfactory marriages, the latter featuring Lark, the heroine of Adams' previous novel, Dancing on Coral). Individually, these stories are competent, occasionally amusing or moving--but, collected here, bizarre conceits are too often a substitute for drama, and Adams' wit lacks real bite, undermining the cumulative effect.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1989
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