SOME OF THE THINGS I DID NOT DO by Janet Beeler Shaw
Kirkus Star

SOME OF THE THINGS I DID NOT DO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In all the stories here Shaw is impressive with her natural, seemingly effortless style--which remains in fine control through an engagingly wide variety of subject-matters. In ""Love and Other Lessons,"" an unwed mother is in unrequited love with a priest; a cowboy has a laundromat encounter with a lonely girl in ""Saturday Night in Pinedale, Wyoming""; and, in ""Inventing the Kiss,"" a girl gets her first kiss from a teenage boy who, over the summer, has discovered Jesus--and is now more interested in ""values"" than bodies. And, in another strong piece, a man's reluctant girlfriend is pictured as smiling ""that kind of dazed, blurry smile that a woman has when she forgets to worry""--a good example of Shaw's fluid, framing prose. True, this ability to suggest so much in simple phrases does sometimes backfire a bit: a few of Shaw's stories give away their secret undercurrents too quickly, crystallizing too soon. But such narrative richness more frequently is a source of generous, affecting layers here--especially in the lovely story ""A New Life"": a young widow assists her girlfriend in an adulterous affair--and is herself tempted by the natural invitations (companionship, possible love) in adultery. . . but resists through a great flexing of will-power. (A touching short novel could probably have been fashioned from this textured material--but Shaw lets it take a natural, un-belabored shape.) Classy, illuminating short fiction: a quiet but distinguished debut.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press