Psychiatrist Folsom’s first collection of short-shorts—42 in all—offers an world filled entirely with women on the verge of discovery. In “The Watcher,” a homeless woman in a “house” constructed of castoffs leaned against a bank can go from panhandling to armed robbery, all the while being watched by an unrepentant voyeur. Elsewhere, an elegant apartment building’s doorwoman is feted on her retirement (“The Doorkeeper”) and speaks the unvarnished truth in her farewell speech. In “The Last Criminal,” Yale wants to offer an honorary degree to the world’s only remaining crook, a safecracker, but, despite her despair at being the last of her kind, she finds herself ambivalent when faced with a budding juvenile delinquent. The shipwrecked sailor of “Mammae Potentes” comes ashore in a land of slim women with massive breasts; the women treat her like property and are determined to make her over in their image—until she escapes. In “Object of Desire,” a woman gains hundreds of pounds in order to become attractive to the world’s biggest woman. And in the title story, Philosophie descends from her retreat in the hills, naked, to help a city in crisis: only to discover that everyone is so hung up on her nakedness that she can’t accomplish her mission—until she seizes on a novel way to distract them.
Instructive as parables, perhaps, but, as fiction, slim fare.