THE COUNTRY I COME FROM by Maura Stanton

THE COUNTRY I COME FROM

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this small collection of seven quiet stories set in the upper Midwest, poet and novelist Stanton (Snow on Snow, 1975; Molly Companion, 1977) makes us hear the extraordinary echo that domestic events have in the lives of children and young adults. The luminous prose, along with carefully juxtaposed scenes and details, transforms ordinary or near-ordinary moments--a tornado, a move to a new place, a wedding--into occasions of growth or recognition. Common to each story is the same central narrator: a calm, intelligent woman reliving her past with adult insight, and members of her family. In ""The Sea Fairies,"" the narrator, babysitting three girls whose mother is in surgery after an accident, plays a game of fantasy with the girls that subtly underscores and comments upon the real-life tragedy--one the narrator, unlike the girls, can walk away from. ""Oz"" likewise juxtaposes the family's fragile basement refuge from a tornado with the mother's wartime memories of a lost friend. Other stories dramatize the initiation of childhood innocence into a darker experience. In ""The Palace,"" the narrator, attending her aunt's wedding in Chicago, wanders away from the wedding party to make a dream-like passage through the hotel and its cast of characters. ""Nijinsky,"" the powerful final story about a mentally unstable Catholic Sister, contrasts (as does ""John McCormack"") the old wildly hermetic ways of the Church with the new regime of hygiene and social science; the young narrator comes to sympathize with the Sister. Occasionally, Stanton is reticent to a fault--or rounds off a story with an adult insight that too easily summarizes a childhood experience--but overall this is a clear-eyed, richly textured glimpse into the mysterious nature of the commonplace.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Milkweed Editions