WHISTLING by Myra Goldberg


and Other Stories
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 If certain story collections resemble novels without connective tissue, this debut volume (parts of which appeared in Ploughshares and the Massachusetts Review) reads like autobiography torn apart and reconstructed by a sharp, active wit. Here are 11 spare, even minimalist, stories that depict the neurotic though loving childhood, wild and formative college years, and edgy emotional coming-of-age of a college professor now in her early 50s. In ``Whistling,'' ``Issues and Answers,'' ``After One,'' and ``Marrying,'' Goldberg sketches the wry contemporary romantic scene this teacher and her intellectually sophisticated friends inhabit, comprised largely of dinner parties, shared wisecracks, visits to psychiatrists, and ironic, often reluctant couplings. In ``Sylvia and Wendy,'' where two awkward Jewish coeds at a swanky girls' college in the early 60's make friends and then clash, and in ``Emily,'' in which a bright Brahmin girl finds her life derailing as she nears 50, the protagonists' background deepens; their mothers tend to be gifted but passive and spoiled, their fathers remote, their brothers favored--all of which causes the women to grow up ambitious and defensive, with a barbed presentation. In ``Gifts'' and ``Blue Spruce,'' childhood is explored directly, through discussions with a mother and a brother about family myths. Finally, in ``Hair,'' snippets of biting dialogue reveal the special fears of another group of friends, all of whom have (or overcame) distorted self-images. Cool, brittle, but interesting vignettes containing echoes of Grace Paley's warmer, more full-bodied world.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-944072-26-7
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993