Krawiec (Faith in What?, 1996) is a strong writer, though his work is frequently hard to take. There's no denying his gift for storytelling, the stark truthfulness of detail, the weirdly derailing sense of finding oneself in the grip of life the way it really is rather than the way fictionmongers have told us it is. In the first of these 12 stories, "Maggots, Infidelity, and the Oyster Roast," you pretty much have the basic irony right in the title. A freethinker whose job for the past 12 years has been stocking shelves at the Food Coop finds that his mate is having an affair with his best friend. To talk things over, he takes her, rather against her will, to an oyster roast in the country where everyone sits slobbering down all the oysters they can eat (a pigs-at-the-trough scene much like Leopold Bloom's dismaying search for a civilized luncheon in Dublin). Life then gives the man's true-blue honesty a whipping he'll never forget. "Lovers" is a searing comedy about a 15-year-old girl named Bonnie who gives birth to her dead baby in an ice cooler as she sets out to better herself in life by imitating Bonnie and Clyde. The collection's most complex piece, "The House of Women," reveals the way women's needs can betray them at the very depths of their lives. And now we sit wised up, but no less the fools of God.
Life put to the rack.