ROUGH TRANSLATIONS: Stories by Molly Giles


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Marriage, divorce, and motherhood--those are the reasonable enough preoccupations of this debut collection of stories, latest winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Some of these brief pieces don't attempt much more than a plain, gently ironic recording of contemporary social situations: a divorcee's hopeful night and disappointing morning-after amidst the singles scene; another divorced woman's dalliance with her remarried ex-husband (not worth the trouble, she realizes); and ""What Do You Say"" if you happen to be sitting near your exhusband's father (fallen on hard times) in a coffee shop? Elsewhere, Giles can be more than a little heavyhanded. ""Baby Pictures"" leans obviously on a married woman's conflict between career (photography) and motherhood--especially with a less-than-supportive husband. Three stories rather crudely sketch in the quasi-feminist disillusionments of marriage: in ""Heart and Soul,"" newly pregnant Joan and banker-husband John (a would-be songwriter) buy a used grand-piano--in a transaction that reveals John's crass, cynical side; in ""Chocolate Footballs,"" Joan realizes that macho-insensitive John is ""cruel,"" with a similar fate likely for her young son (""The men have been feeding Jeffie chocolate footballs and he already has a brown mustache around his mouth that makes him look like a miniature man himself""); ""Peril"" finds Joan later in unhinged despair. And, even in this slight volume, Giles repeats herself too much--the story that follows ""Peril"" presents a woman in virtually the exact same state as Joan's--though she does also deal with death (in two stark pieces) and psychic phenomena (in the lightly whimsical ""Old Soul,"" narrated by the one down-to-earth type in a family of mystic romantics). Thin and uncommanding work, then, but a likable debut nonetheless--flecked with humor and insight, largely uncontaminated by the arch/sentimental mannerisms that frequently go with younger marriage/divorce material.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press