STRIPPING by Pagan Kennedy


And Other Stories
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 Despite her cutting-edge credentials--editor of a hip 'zine, star of an offbeat cable show, writer for The Nation and The Village Voice--Kennedy's literary debut is a modest, rather conventional collection of ten stories, a few of which have appeared in The Quarterly, Story Quarterly and VLS. Most of Kennedy's stories, regardless of time or place, record the loss of innocence by young women and girls who don't necessarily regret their passage into adulthood. That can't be said, though, of the narrator of the title piece--an old woman whose life was forever altered when her older cousin raped her many years ago, an incident that has also haunted her other cousin, a helpless witness to the event. In ``The Tunnel,'' a young girl discovers the pleasures of lying when she disobeys her father's warning about running through a dangerous tunnel. The narrator of ``The Dead Rabbits'' recalls a horse-riding accident at age ten, an incident that made her realize her father's inability to protect her from all harm. ``Camp'' and ``The Black Forest'' unerringly capture the drama of girls in search of experience: a young camper who tries to seduce an awkward brainiac like herself; and a naive college freshman who's overwhelmed by her reading of Nietzsche. In the slacker romance of ``UFO,'' a bright young woman realizes that her moody, acid-dropping boyfriend just might be really crazy. A reverse sort of revelation comes in ``Shrinks,'' the story of a young woman raised on mood-altering drugs and psychiatry by her neurotic mother--the daughter realizes she doesn't need either. ``Elvis's Bathroom,'' a knowing look at a funky punk couple (he, a burnt-out case at 30; she, a vivacious 18-year-old) celebrates her guileless enthusiasm for life, and her desire to see the spot where the King died. A winning collection of stories by a beginner worth watching.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-85242-322-6
Page count: 153pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993


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