A PLACE OF LIGHT by Mary Bush
Kirkus Star

A PLACE OF LIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bush dedicates her first volume of stories to her two deceased teachers, George P. Elliot and Raymond Carver; and while her work manages to reflect the disparate sensibilities of both, it also introduces a writer of remarkable maturity and singular vision. With the moral sense of Elliot and the proletarian ethos of Carver, Bush offers 12 stories that explore ""the mysteries and inventions of the everyday world."" Half of her narrators are teen-age girls from working-class families--some of whom cling to their innocent notions of the world, some of whom emerge into womanhood to experience ""the wonders the world had to offer."" The former include the naif in ""Bread,"" who is convinced after returning home from an appendix operation that her death is imminent; the frightened daughter of ""Cure,"" who follows her great-aunt's advice to find a carp tail in order to complete a potion designed to cure her mother; and the Italian-American tomboy in ""Rude Awakening,"" whose introduction to sin is as confused as her sexual identity. A genuinely ruder experience upsets the narrator of ""Outlaws,"" whose closeness to her renegade uncle is spoiled when he makes a clumsy almost-pass, destroying her only true friendship. A teen-ager first understands betrayal when she takes her invalid grandfather, entrusted to her care, to the circus against his will and her parents' wishes (""Difficult Passage""). A less literal, but no less difficult, passage occurs in the title story--a deeply moving tale of a widow and her two daughters finally breaking away from her nasty lover. While two boys excited about trapping muskrats undergo a change of heart about killing animals (""Muskrat""), the old woman in ""Emergency,"" mean and miserly, reaffirms her view of ""this awful world."" Three somewhat melodramatic pieces succeed by virtue of Bush's comic touch (""Losing Willy Gleason""), her cinematic sense of terror (""Hunters""), and her empathetic imagination (""Underground Railroad""). In ""Glass,"" she transforms a mundane tale of domestic despair into a cleareyed celebration of what life throws our way. A book of revelations and awakenings, surprisingly flesh and insightful.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1989
ISBN: 1550712195
Publisher: Morrow