SQUANDERING THE BLUE: Stories by Kate Braverman
Kirkus Star

SQUANDERING THE BLUE: Stories

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Twelve stories of hallucinatory intensity by the author of the novels Lithium for Medea (1979) and Palm Latitudes (1988). Is there anything left to say about alcoholism and addiction? In a bravura performance, Braverman writes of women who drink, drag, and finally turn to A.A.--and she makes their stories grippingly fresh and insistent. Language itself, which tempts and mocks her characters, also becomes the one permitted intoxication. A vein, visible again after collapsing from years of drug abuse, says, ""I am Lazarus. Kiss me with metal."" Skies are ""etched with the blue of radium or narcotics. . .luminescent with ancient fever."" One story bleeds into the next as Braverman repeatedly circles over the same ground: women who write poetry and turn 40, who have young daughters or wish they did. They live in chicken-wire shacks in Hawaii and homes in Beverly Hills amid a lush sensuality of color (""The leaves looked like moist tropical stars. . .a sexual green, assaulting the boundaries""); they love terrifying addicted men; they die of breast cancer. Images are gorgeous and deadly: some reappear in story after story (vodka labels ""enticing as a postcard from Kauai. Or a medieval script, an illumination imposed upon the pagan""); this risky repetition succeeds in heightening the sense of myth and inexorable obsession. Braverman falters only toward the end: the last four stories expand the scope of the collection, but the suffering and stylistic exuberance begin to seem forced. Incantatory prose, penetrating observation of addiction and modern malaise: frightening and unforgettable.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Ballantine