MUSIC LESSON: Stories by Martha Lacy Hall


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A pleasant, pleasing collection of stories with a deep Southern drawl--some of them straight comedies, but most of them made from a mix of humor and the responsibilities of knowledge. Hall is least compelling when she's at her most straightforward; in the title story, for instance, a genteel woman is put on the spot because of medical debts--and is forced to sell a grand piano that's the (over-obvious) symbol of her comfort and station. Far better are those tales in which Hall deals with a lilting melody of local memories: ""Lucky Life,"" ""The Painter,"" ""Privacy,"" ""The Man Who Gave Brother Double Pneumonia""--all these are stories which indicate that, in a place like Hall's fictional Sweet Bay, Miss., anyone's business is everyone's business. Equally good are the stories which are demurely absurd: in ""Just a Little Sore Throat,"" a huge-breasted matron is forced to undress fully for a new local doctor--loving it and hating it at the same time. And, in ""Doll,"" an old music teacher carries on a still-vital life within her ruined physical shell. What Hall wants--and often achieves--is the realization that, if watched sedulously and quietly enough, people can and always do surprise: an appealing premise, an engaging gathering.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press