THE FALLING NUN by Pamela Rafael Berkman


and Other Stories
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Only the thinnest veil of a childish understanding of spirituality, which almost invariably leads to an adolescent understanding of sexuality, keeps these dozen dreary stories by Berkman (Her Infinite Variety, 2001) from being about absolutely nothing. “Tat” is little more than the narrative of beautiful Liberty getting a tattoo from a man who once tattooed a man with stigmata; “Gold Glitter” merely describes a girl going to a Halloween party covered in gold glitter to get laid; the title story features an Ally McBeal–ful of office women who have meaningless relationships with cardboard men and obsess over the miniature plastic nuns that represent their long-since-sacrificed womanly virtue. The most shocking tale is “Men Have More Upper Body Strength,” which advocates sexual violence as two girlfriends’ conversation glorifying female-on-male rape prompts one of them to act it out. It appears that Berkman ignored everything she was told by all the writing teachers she lists in her acknowledgments; this collection shows her unaware of what fiction is and what stories are supposed to do. The names come and go, but the characters are all the same. As if the tales weren’t embarrassing enough, Scribner has attached a Reading Group Guide with questions for students of literature.

Entirely forgettable.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7432-3019-1
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2002


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