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Seven stories plus the title novella (the weakest thing here--a Southern girl's growing-up with distance and death; too impressionistic and abrupt to fully command narrative trust)--that fortify the strengths Hood first displayed in her previous collection, How Far She Went (1984). A brusque and telling way with summary stands out as Hood's hallmark. In the best stories here--""Desire Call of the Wild Hen"" and ""After Moore""--she can, for instance, convincingly pack a year of marriage into a paragraph; by the end of the story, we have two or more lives completely encapsulated: ""They had a good year, and built on a paneled room for his hunting trophies. His business didn't fail until the third year. They sold the ski boat, the Hobie, her car, the trail bikes, the pontoon, the camper, and his pool table. It wasn't enough. They dropped out of their clubs and he went back to work for his father, a ten-hour day, plus the grinding commute, and only two weeks vacation a year."" What saves this technique from becoming too journalistic is Hood's syncopatedly rhythmic prose, more controlled now than in her debut volume: ""Later, at the yacht club, she kept on till she got wild drunk. It was the first time Larry had seen her like that, haggardly vivacious. She never did eat right, worried she'd lose her lure. She had dieted right down to her nerves on Herbalife, and was so loose in her jewelry she danced out of her wedding ring. . ."" All in all: though a lot of the stories seem the same--as do the women in them--Hood shows continuing appeal and brightness, more perhaps as a chronicle- than a character-maker.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1986
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin