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 The author of In China with Harpo and Karl (1990), among others, offers 45 sporadically humorous accounts of the life of Stout Mama--an academic in her 40s and James's self-professed alter ego. A committed 60's-vintage liberal now passing her unmarried middle years in and around the small colleges of the Pacific Northwest, Stout Mama finds it difficult at times to exist as a resolute romantic in the often chilly and nonsensical modern-day world. When not commuting to one of several teaching jobs, stalking eagles outside of town, eavesdropping in bars, playing poker with women friends, or carefully encouraging (and trying not to scare) the occasional man who strays into her bed, Stout Mama finds time to lament such everyday annoyances as: mirrors (in ``The Gym'') that distort women's figures; cats (in ``Rats and S&M Black Leather'') that appear at feeding time but scram when there's a rat in the house; prudish sex-education teachers (in ``High School Sex'') who omit information on female orgasm; and the sleeplessness and lightheadedness (in ``Hot Flushes'') of menopause. Occasionally her fellow humans' slow-wittedness gets Stout Mama down, but then she's easily bolstered by the sublime if fleeting pleasures fate sends her way: the sexy Frenchman who appears in ``Cigarettes and Mayonnaise'' the instant she resolves to quit smoking; the flying instructor in ``Platform Boots'' who offers to take her for a seaplane ride; the Supremes song on the radio that breaks through a momentary gloom. Born on Bastille Day, Stout Mama claims she's a true cultural radical. In fact, these are tales of a person on the sidelines looking in--albeit with a pleasant sense of whimsy. Tiny tidbits, by turns genuinely charming and painfully cute. (First printing of 10,000)

Pub Date: July 16th, 1993
ISBN: 0-918949-34-3
Page count: 131pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993