POWER LINES by Jane Bradley


Email this review


Eleven stories, most published originally in quarterlies, that are long on atmosphere and detail: the best are grim accounts of battered or broken families, the others evocative mood-pieces. ""Noises"" is about a daughter's physically abusive marriage told from the point of view of her mother, who remembers her own abusive past: the story climaxes in a dark conflict of wills (mother, daughter, abusive husband out to retrieve his wife) worthy of D.H. Lawrence. ""Blue Sky""--an excruciating account of an alcoholic who terrorizes his vivacious wife and young daughter--ends with an old horse that he decides to do away with. In ""Trailer Fire,"" a fireman widower, whose relationship with his nearly grown daughter is tense, discovers a dead girl in a burned trailer and experiences a carefully modulated epiphany. ""First Flight""--a quiet poignant account of sexual initiation--centers on three daughters who visit their drug-busted mother in prison (the mother, a free spirit and hippie, ""could love anything that moved""). Of the rest, ""Navigation"" (a boy and girl sneak into a mountain park) is a delicate dance of present detail and memories (on the girl's side) of past madness; ""Mistletoe"" delicately contrasts a female narrator's journey with her daughter and husband to get mistletoe with her memories of the love of her life, also married, who died of a stroke; and ""Twirling"" is a coming-of-age story, moody and atmospheric, concerning a mother, a daughter, and the daughter's truck-driving boyfriend. The title piece begins as an idiosyncratic ghost story and darkens into another account of family abuse from an otherworldly perspective. Delicacy and grim power in a promising debut collection.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1989
Publisher: Univ. of Arkansas Press