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DISLOCATIONS by Janette Turner Hospital



Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1988
ISBN: 0807115088
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press

The Australian-born novelist (Borderline, The Tiger in the Tiger Pit) collects her short fiction, 17 stories mostly published in Canadian and US magazines over the past two decades, and including a piece (""Waiting"") that became the point of departure for her first, much-admired novel, The Ivory Swing (1983). True to their collective title, these skillful fictions concern people who find themselves displaced--whether by accident or circumstance, self-delusion or the death of a loved one--and include of course those who live, like the author, in countries where they weren't born. Culture shock affects many of Hospital's itinerant characters: the Indian-born lovers of ""Happy Diwali,"" who must marry others by arrangement back home while joining in loneliness in Canada; the uptight teacher of ""You Gave Me Hyacinths,"" who's discomfited by her students in remote Australia, with their brazen sexuality and willful ignorance of the world beyond, and the American student in ""Waiting,"" completely defeated by the political and social turmoil in India. Much here suggests the impossibility of cross-cultural understanding, but a few stories hold the possibility of connection--the widow dismayed by the changing make-up of her Canadian neighborhood manages to form an unspoken bond with an equally frightened old Chinese woman who moves next door (""Moving Out""). ""The Inside Story"" gently mocks the romantic notions of freedom and punishment held by a woman who teaches convicts; but ""The Dark Wood"" is less sympathetic to its protagonist--a somewhat self-satisfied psychologist. Chance alters the lives of a woman whose best friend dies in a freak accident moments after they part (""Some Have Called Thee Mighty and Dreadful"") and of a beautiful young girl horribly disfigured by an exploding can of lighter fluid (""Golden Girl""). Some here have their new lives forced upon them, others choose a nomadic life, but most of them realize there's no turning back. A powerful collection by an international talent.