Thirty-six spellbinding stories about the active, spirited lives of women.
Female characters are still often relegated to the shadows in literature, written only as supporting devices to prop up the journeys of the male characters. This is not the case in this much-needed anthology. In Sarah Marian Seltzer’s “Ironing,” a story of first pre-pubescent love, the female gaze and female sexual desire are centered. Here, a schoolgirl's first crush—and her ensuing desire to change herself into the kind of girl her crush would like—deepens into a commentary on both beauty and male predatory behavior. In "Bringing Down the Clouds” by Kathleen Alcalá, Estela, the gatekeeper of a home for female survivors of domestic violence and their children, is drawn into a secret society of women who seek greater rights. And in Kim Chinquee’s “Physics,” a single mom working on her thesis tries to face the truth about a boyfriend who is no good. One of the most compelling tales is Alison Newall’s “Heart Like a Drum,” in which a staid PTA mom slowly transitions into a leopard and flees suburbia for the wild. The stories here run the gamut of romantic love, female friendship, familial relationships, and workplace politics. But throughout each is the common denominator of an active female character who embarks on her own hero’s journey. Structured in five parts (Resistance, Solidarity, Entanglements, Mother Figures, and Transformations), this anthology hearkens back to the groundbreaking collections of women’s writing published in the 1980s and '90s in a glorious homage. The editor is to be lauded for the effort at diversity that showcases women from a multiplicity of identities.
With prose that ranges from the humorous to the lyric and forms that range from the real to the magical, here is a vital addition to contemporary literature.