A strong story collection from Krysl (How to Accommodate Men: Stories, 1998, etc.) showcasing a feminist, leftist, postmodernist, funny voice.
Colorado’s own Sheila, in the title story, is PC in extremis, besotted by a Boulder where you “can order arias sung for the spleen tailored to your personal astro printout and, if the acupuncturist recommends it, get a liver massage.” Her sister’s son killed in the Towers, she’s grieving, but also scheming for nothing less than world peace. Her plan: to seduce Osama bin Laden with a meal of “Alaskan Salmon à la Tetsuya marinated in fresh basil, coriander, thyme, and grape seed oil.” Sure enough, the Evildoer, complete with dialysis machine and Koranic quotes, arrives at her place for din-din. And even while he blusters—“I’m Islam’s version of The Rock”—so smitten is he with the eats and the chef that he actually contemplates a talk with George W. Bush. If Bush will meet his requests, including backing out of Saudi Arabia, bin Laden will “call off jihad and send our women to college.” Krysl has a thing for Boulder; even more so, a thing for women’s lives portrayed with wry or tender originality. “Heraclitus, Help Me,” for example, illustrates the changes in a daughter’s life with allusions to the paintings of Mary Cassatt, and “Cherry Garcia, Pistachio Cream” is a beauteously real portrayal of mother/daughter bonding. The more political Krysl gets, the bleaker the results—think William Burroughs without the misogyny. Her piece “Welcome to the Torture Center, Love,” concerning a night journey through the inferno that is war-torn Sudan, is a dazzler.
A compassionate and incendiary work.