Woronov’s dazzling command of metaphor and surrealism makes for her best yet: stories about women staggering under unbearable emotional baggage and seeking love by walking into walls.
Not to suggest that Woronov can’t write about men with searing insight and more vigor than most male writers can. Still, of the ten or so males drawn here, not one might really be called a man in full, admirably virile and loving. All fall short under the gaze of Woronov’s naked brain, and this brings about an imbalance in the women as well. The author’s last outing, Niagara (2002), joined bits and pieces into a whole but lacked the focus of Snake (2000), a novel magnetized to the disjoinings of schizophrenia. Here, Woronov’s tales allow her to go with her strengths—instantly grasped characters seen with relentless poetic intensity. The first three pieces swim in place, a calm before the reader is hurled into the amazing “The Amazon,” whose characters and description bring Woronov to her most impressive: “The surface of the river was brown, opaque as mud. I had been duly warned of what lived down there: don’t put your hand in, the piranhas might be hungry; don’t swim in it, there’s a heatseeking worm that will swim up your butt and he won’t stop moving upwards till he bores through your brain and kills you; there are more infections and parasites than are catalogued by man. The smooth brown skin of the water looked like it was standing still, but underneath she was running towards the ocean carrying over a billion varieties of death in her bouquet, a bride with a death head grinning from beneath her veil. But don’t all brides have skulls grinning just beneath their skin?” Also outstanding: “The Alligator Man,” “My Name Is Helen,” and the stunning “Wall Street.”
Outlaw writing for the fearless.