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Marianne Hauser. The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser.

Marianne Hauser. The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser. FC2, 2004. 292 pp. Paper: $17.95.

The twenty-two stories gathered here are taken from throughout ninety-three-year-old Marianne Hauser's nearly seven-decade career--from a few pieces first published as early as the 1940s, to an introduction written just before the collection was published. They are, generally speaking, deft and light on their feet, and, like the stories of James Purdy, combine an almost classical sensibility (particularly in their allusiveness) and a love of story with subtle disruptive gestures and humor. In "Introduction," Hauser speaks frankly about aging and eros. "The Sheep" pursues a mother and daughter's attraction to a mysterious Greek. "Weeds" concerns a girl's obsession with another girl whose existence is open to question. "The Seersucker Suit" moves marvelously and quite humorously from a delusional narrator into the completely surreal. "The Missing Page" follows the peregrinations of a customs inspector obsessed with pornography, as his search for a missing calendar page moves in an unexpected direction. Some of the later stories offer views of the war-torn Alsace that Hauser left at a young age, giving insight into the borderland mentality of the region. "A Lesson in Music," perhaps the strongest story in the collection, follows a young student's sexualized obsession with her teacher, Miss Stolz, and traces the way this obsession becomes a kind of hatred through being accidentally deflected. Add to these solid offerings the stories where Hauser manipulates narrative perspective--"ASHES," which is narrated by a dead man's ashes, and "Heartlands Beat," which pieces a story together through a range of different viewpoints--and the result is a rich collection that blends both an appreciation of tradition and a satisfying and continuing curiosity about where fiction can go. Though Hauser is best known as a novelist, this collection shows her to be a strong writer of stories as well. [Brian Evenson]
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Author:Evenson, Brian
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2005
Words:311
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