THE OTHER DOOR: Stories by Karen Heuler


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A debut collection of 14 stories that highlights the author's personal--and highly effective--use of magical realism. The title story, in which Ione discovers a door in her apartment she's never noticed before and finds it leads to another world, is an apt metaphor for Heuler's prevalent theme of the magical. The best here feature a seamless blend of the mundane and the fantastic, as ordinary characters undergo extraordinary experiences. In ""Like a Piston, Like a Flame,"" Vera, a ballerina extraordinaire, loses a leg; after months of grueling practice with a wooden replacement, and with the assistance of her circus-performer husband, she puts on the performance of her life. ""The Hole Story"" pokes fun at people who think hiding garbage in dumps makes it disappear: When George Wilcox falls into the hole that's appeared in the center of town and doesn't come out, his wife jumps in after him; inside, they find where the world's refuse is stored--and rediscover each other in the process. Cleverness is only one of Heuler's tools for exploring her subjects; astute observation on themes as complex as friendship is another. In ""The Revolt of Everyday Things,"" Fran Rood and so-called best friend Becky are friends only ""because each measured herself quite victoriously against the other."" And daunting social issues are not taboo--""The Light at the End"" goes beneath the ""should one give homeless people money"" question to explore the points of view of all parties involved: giver, recipient, and bystander. When Heuler misses the mark (rarely), it's not by much. Although the cryptic ""Overpowering Joy"" gets lost in itself, ""Notes From the Attic,"" a mystical play on a theme with a gritty core, raises serious feminist concerns. Symbolism that's occasionally too obscure, but Heuler can take up issues and at the same time show the inventive powers behind the door of her imagination.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Univ. of Missouri