Three connected stories about an ingénue who travels across continents and oceans in the 1960s.
Scofield (Occasions of Sin, 2004, etc.) offers three pieces about solo travel as a woman flirts with danger while trying to prove a theory about female autonomy. In each story—“Oh Baby Oh,” a hitchhiking tale; “An Easy Pass,” about a stay at a bullfighter’s ranch; and the title story, set on the island of Mykonos with two soldiers—Baby attempts to use her sexuality to curry favor. But she doesn’t yet understand men, herself, or how this might work. Baby—as she lets the men call her—carries The Stranger and misguided regret. “She does not yet think of herself and her peers as men and women,” nor has she formed skills to stay in one place and deal with conflict. First she hitchhikes west, toward the dream of a soldier she met as a teen, an idea she admits to herself “is so ridiculous, and so certain” that she is willing to risk her safety. Next, on the bullfighter’s ranch, she sees men practice the art of power play with bulls and women. To the matadors, the games have consequences. “Why, then,” she writes, “would I want to practice passes, except to go into the ring….” Each encounter between man and woman, animal and man, is fraught with the tension of seductive control. Finally, Scofield flips the power dynamic on Mykonos. But Baby’s self-harming betrays her outward confidence. She tries her hardest to communicate her theory about female independence, arguing, “I want my own damned reasons to be who I am….I want my own schedule for it.” Her happiness depends on her ability to adapt.
Short pieces by an author who wields unease like a tool; a lean volume full of hearty character details and mid-20s yearning.