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MALAFEMMENA by Louisa Ermelino


by Louisa Ermelino

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-941411-29-2
Publisher: Sarabande

Edgy short stories about women in trouble abroad and at home from Ermelino (Joey Dee Gets Wise, 2015), the Reviews Director at Publishers Weekly.

“So there I was in Australia, in Sydney, working in a pub that recreated the Tyrolean Alps. I wore an appropriately humiliating costume and pink suede clogs….” “The ship ultimately left us, not in Singapore but on a tiny island off Malaysia that had never seen a tourist….” “Robin and Christina had a plan to meet in Le Havre and go on to Paris. In the flea market there they would buy backpacks, or as Robin, having been to Europe before, called them, rucksacks, and they would hitchhike, or as Robin called it, auto-stop, across Europe.” The characters in Ermelino’s 16 quick stories get around. They crack jokes, take opium, have ill-considered assignations, and are lucky to get out alive (some don’t). There are a lot of great lines and a few truly timeless questions (“Is Nicole Kidman wearing Zac Posen, and did she really buy her lasagna pan at Williams-Sonoma?” “They have room service in the Howard Johnson Motor Inn on Forty-Third Street?”), but it all goes by a little too quickly. Characters and situations are whisked away before we can really understand or get involved with them, and even very sad situations are presented with little emotion. Some of the stories are clearly more conceptual than narrative — “James Dean and Me,” for example, is an extended surrealist joke set on the Afghan border, which the narrator is trying to cross with her deceased movie-star friend. “Fish Heads” is a sketch about eating fish heads. “Where It Belongs” is a dark Italian folk tale–ish type thing set in Brooklyn.

Too cool for some readers; just right for others.