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A strange and not altogether satisfying mix: newcomer Vaswani takes up certain themes, but her work seems not to have found...

Thirteen stories by Indian-American Vaswani.

The experiences of immigrants (or of their children) who have come to America but not quite found their feet here provides much of Vaswani’s material in stories that play with the notions of culture and homeland from a variety of perspectives. The protagonist of “Bing-Chen,” for example, is a half-Chinese, half-American adolescent who ventures into Chinatown for a haircut and reflects on his own inability to feel truly at home in either white or Asian society. In “Domestication of an Imaginary Goat,” a young Indian woman in New York fantasizes with her American boyfriend about the home that she knows they will never have. Some of the tales are set abroad: The title story, for instance, is about the travails of a young orphaned girl living in a Catholic boarding school in India during an election riot, while “Sita and Mrs. Durber” follows a schoolteacher in India who tries to help a precocious but withdrawn girl. “Bolero” is the story of a boy who grows up on a farm during the Spanish Civil War and manages with some difficulty to emigrate to America, where he studies at Juilliard and goes on to become an orchestra conductor, while “Blue, Without Sorrow” offers a short family history from the perspective of a melancholy Mexican woman who recovered from a mortal illness as a girl and later moves to Arizona (after her father dies). There are also simpler stories that stand stylistically apart from the rest, like “The Rigors of Dance Lessons,” about a husband and wife who (in what becomes an apparent metaphor of their marriage) sign up for dance lessons.

A strange and not altogether satisfying mix: newcomer Vaswani takes up certain themes, but her work seems not to have found an overriding focus or coherence.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-889330-96-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sarabande

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2003

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The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0374515360

Page Count: 555

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

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In a word: magnificent.

Retrospect and resolution, neither fully comprehended nor ultimately satisfying: such are the territories the masterful Munro explores in her tenth collection.

Each of its eight long tales in the Canadian author’s latest gathering (after Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, 2001, etc.) bears a one-word title, and all together embrace a multiplicity of reactions to the facts of aging, changing, remembering, regretting, and confronting one’s mortality. Three pieces focus on Juliet Henderson, a student and sometime teacher of classical culture, who waits years (in “Chance”) before rediscovering romantic happiness with the middle-aged man with whom she had shared an unusual experience during a long train journey. In “Soon,” Juliet and her baby daughter Penelope visit Juliet’s aging parents, and she learns how her unconventional life has impacted on theirs. Then, in “Silence,” a much older Juliet comes sorrowfully to terms with the emptiness in her that had forever alienated Penelope, “now living the life of a prosperous, practical matron” in a world far from her mother’s. Generational and familial incompatibility also figure crucially in “Passion,” the story (somewhat initially reminiscent of Forster’s Howards End) of a rural girl’s transformative relationship with her boyfriend’s cultured, “perfect” family—and her realization that their imperfections adumbrate her own compromised future. Further complexities—and borderline believable coincidences and recognitions—make mixed successes of “Trespasses,” in which a young girl’s unease about her impulsive parents is shown to stem from a secret long kept from her, and “Tricks,” an excruciatingly sad account of a lonely girl’s happenstance relationship with the immigrant clockmaker she meets while attending a Shakespeare festival, the promise she tries and helplessly fails to keep, and the damaging misunderstanding that, she ruefully reasons, “Shakespeare should have prepared her.” Then there are the masterpieces: the title story’s wrenching portrayal of an emotionally abused young wife’s inability to leave her laconic husband; and the brilliant novella “Powers,” which spans years and lives, a truncated female friendship that might have offered sustenance and salvation, and contains acute, revelatory discriminations between how women and men experience and perceive “reality.”

In a word: magnificent.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2004

ISBN: 1-4000-4281-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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