Rocker (Punishment, 2012), in her sophomore effort, offers a collection of nine short stories chronicling pivotal moments in the lives of very different women.
From the outskirts of Buenos Aires to the restroom of an upscale bookstore, these stories span different times, places and perspectives. However, each features a female protagonist who has a momentous, although not always positive, experience. “Waiting” explores the reality, and the occasional tedium, of an aging couple’s life; “Ghost Stories” features a mysterious woman on the run in 1940s Bavaria; and “The Crusader” provides welcome humor with the tale of a woman who isn’t afraid to speak up when another woman leaves a messy public restroom stall. Rocker, a retired judge, brings her legal experience to “The Setting Sun,” in which a young woman plays lawyer for both the plaintiff and the defense in an abortion case. In the autobiographical “Maternity,” the lengthiest story of the collection, the author engagingly explores a confounding family secret and the lies that perpetuated it. Some readers may feel that this particular story, which includes photographs, could have been expanded into a full-length book. Overall, the author skillfully uses her stories’ key moments to illuminate her characters and themes. The imagery in “The Bride’s Dance” is strikingly vibrant, although some readers may find alliterative phrases such as “fishnet festooned legs” a bit forced. Some stories’ brevity, and the fact that the protagonists are not always sympathetic, may also distance some readers. That said, Rocker excels at providing a new atmosphere and perspective to each story. The collection will likely appeal to fans of literary fiction, and its coverage of social and gender issues may also make it a candidate for women’s studies courses.
A contemplative, expressive story collection, sure to garner an appreciative readership.