DO THE WINDOWS OPEN? by Julie Hecht

DO THE WINDOWS OPEN?

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Hecht debuts with stories woven from seemingly uneventful threads of life that are made as funny, compelling, and rewarding as a reader ever could wish. The nine pieces' narrator is in her early 40s, married, childless, a sometime resident of New York City now living in East Hampton and summering in Nantucket. Such locales might suggest a white-glove elite, but this character is no such type. Money goes unmentioned, it's true (the husband is a university dean), but Hecht's invariably engaging person is far too timid, droll, and bumbling to be a mover or shaker of much of anything. In ``Perfect Vision'' (a slow start), she's certain that an optician is an ex- Nazi, while in the much finer title story her fear of driving leads her to ride the ``South Fork bus,'' an experience as richly peopled in its understated modern way as a ride down the river might once have been with Mark Twain. Hecht's heroine is a strict vegetarian (``I knew that the Swedes liked to commit suicide, and if this was their diet, maybe it was the reason'') and pursues a career in photography that most recently involves photographing ``seven doctors and their dogs,'' the most prominent doctor being the famous ``reproductive surgeon, Dr. Loquesto,'' who always yells, never opens windows (``A Lovely Day''), and performs a ``medical procedure'' on his photographer-patient (``I Couldn't See a Thing''), who's not about to reveal exactly what the surgery is, though hints may be hidden in the gorgeously intricate ``The Thrill Is Gone'' (looking for the source of ``My heart leaps up''), or in the melancholy ``Were the Ornaments Lovely?'' (meeting two strange brothers), or even in ``The World of Ideas,'' with its glance back to the promise of the last century (``But this was the new world. What kind of world was it? It was some other kind of world, and there was no escape''). Droll, intricate, hilarious, sad: a humane, serious, funny, altogether captivating voice.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-45201-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996




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