THE WOMAN WHO CUT OFF HER LEG AT THE MAIDSTONE CLUB by Julia Slavin

THE WOMAN WHO CUT OFF HER LEG AT THE MAIDSTONE CLUB

and Other Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut collection of 13 rather creepy stories, most describing ordinary people who undergo extraordinarily bizarre events. While not exactly a surrealist, Slavin has a warped sense of humor and enjoys rubbing the reader’s nose in her wit. What’s surprising is the ease with which she draws one into her gags, which are fantastic rather than symbolic and carry themselves off with good grace. The title story is typical of the collection as a whole: it describes a crusty middle-aged WASP who becomes involved with a Jewish real-estate developer—mainly because of his interest in her family connections—and chooses to (further) scandalize her crowd by amputating her own leg (with a Cartier knife) at the local country club. In “Swallowed Whole,” we—re given a new variant on the sex-hungry housewife tale, in which a suburban matron becomes so infatuated with the boy who mows her lawn that she swallows him whole and carries on an affair with him in the privacy of her own stomach. “Dentaphilia” describes the travails of a young woman who grows teeth all over her body and eventually tires of the process, while “Blighted” tells of another woman’s unhappy relations with the oak tree that falls onto her house. Some of the stories are more straightforward: “Covered” concerns a middle-aged man trying to cope with the death of his mother and the slow realization that he has failed in his career; and “Rare Is a Cold Red Center” portrays an alcoholic waitress’s disappointment with her own life. Plenty of domestic angst is available, as in “Pudding” (about a middle-aged Soccer Mom’s discontent at the direction her family is headed in). Purposefully weird but sharp: Slavin has a careful ear and a good eye for detail—even if her tastes run to the baroque. Despite the outlandishness of her constructions, there is a precision to her narration that’s remarkable.

Pub Date: July 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8050-6085-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999