CURIOUS AFFAIRS by Mary Jane Myers


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Myers’ debut features 13 stories of bizarre encounters and potential miracles.

Strange events befall the characters in this collection. They find a cursed stone from Maui, take advice from a talking lizard, meet a centuries-dead Austrian composer, and channel an ancient Greek poet. Many of the protagonists are lonely, deeply unhappy women who are all too eager to accept bits of magic into their lives. Diane in “The Maui Stone” is 42 when she begins dating a Jungian therapist who imposes his extreme New Age lifestyle on her. On a trip to Maui that he has insisted on, she finds the titular stone that changes her life. Barbara of “Sappho Resurgent” is also on vacation, an Aegean cruise with the beautiful sister she’s felt estranged from for years. When Barbara begins chanting and translating what she intuits is ancient Greek, she is skeptical about this for only a moment. “This was not going to be easy to explain, even to herself…but these strange babblings somehow must be connected to that language, to that tradition of chanted poetry.” Even when their susceptibility leads to tragedy, it is difficult to pity these women. They pass judgment on their own friends and relatives, who have “Elliptical-toned bodies” and who have had abortions, “a horrible, unforgivable sin.” They observe a “homeless man, stinking of vomit” in a church pew before going on to meditate on “boundless compassion and mercy.” Throughout, the narrative voice stays too close to the protagonists’ perspectives to comment on their hypocrisy and, at times, even preaches its own questionable morality. There are several characters who have lost their prior religious connections, from Catholicism to cabala, and this is mentioned as if losing faith is at the root of unhappiness. Furthermore, when they reclaim it, religion offers overly simplistic solutions to their central conflicts.

A collection of mysterious encounters that fails to intrigue.

Pub Date: March 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-58988-150-1
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Paul Dry Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2018


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