ROPE-DANCER by M.J. Fitzgerald


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Fifteen stories by the author of Concertina (see above). An uncertainty about what to do with the story form seems to mark these pieces, in spite of their great variety of approach. Women who are helpless in their love (often an instantaneous and absolute love) for men appear in a number of them, including the fable-like ""Creases"" (a man stores his compliant lover in a box in the attic), ""Falling Sickness"" (a woman ""falls"" from her window each time she sees a desired lover below), and ""Walls"" (a woman builds imaginary walls as she makes love with man after man--999 of them in all). The ""moral"" may be clear in these fables, but when Fitzgerald approaches the richer material of life itself in her more realistic pieces, less rather than more seems to come of it. ""Bachelor Life"" tells of a man who dresses as a woman, and who ends in despondency, but the story hovers outside the character, rather than penetrating inside, and achieves lit tie resonance; ""The Fire Eater"" and ""Il Bell'Uomo"" portray women infatuated with men who are out of their reach, or whom they fear, and again the stories merely end rather than grow. ""Objects"" succeeds more fully, chronicling a woman's loss of identity when she loses her private keepsakes, but this success is outweighed by the sheer slightness of pieces like ""Perspectives on the First You"" (""Yes I said. No you said. I love you I said. I want you you said""), and the flickeringly droll ""Experiment with Time,"" in which a young man chases a pudgy priest named Time, hoping to kill him. Concluding the volume is a long symbolic fantasy (""Glass"") about childhood and its growth into adult sexuality that, with its Narnia-like qualities, may please some but seem to others interminable. Castings-about, from an uncertainly ambitious author. Published previously in England.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1987
Publisher: Random House