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Three Cautionary Tales.

This haunting book - two novellas and one long short story - explores the space inside three women where words are formed from silence. In this attempt to shatter emptiness, song and language arise as if out of an elemental desire to simply speak of what it means to be alive in 1993.

In Virginia Christian's lyrical novella "Just Late Summer Locusts," an adult narrator journeys backwards over the course of her childhood in order to piece together the fragmented story of her mute brother's descent into mental illness. She sees herself as one with the earth and trees, bounded by the soil, while her brother wanders into other realms with the stars. She wonders where her life ends and his begins, but her musings are bordered by the memory of the buzzing of the summer locusts that appeared suddenly the day he was taken away from her.

Hope Harris's "False Light" is a beautiful tale of loss. A woman drives along eastern Long Island at four in the morning haunted by the moonlight. When she stops to view the bay, drawn there by shards of light in darkness, she finds an older woman parked next to her. This mythic woman seems mysteriously to show up many times over the course of the story, as if to mirror the isolated life of the narrator. She enables the narrator to speak in fragments about the loneliness of marriage when communication consists only of polite lies.

In Erika Duncan's stunning novella, "How She Got Her Heart: A Cautionary Tale," Eleanora learns from her father on the eve of her marriage that the heart inside her body is not her own. When she was a small baby it had been replaced, transplanted from another baby who had met a brutal death. The stories of her father, her husband, and the donor of the heart unfold, while Eleanora has brief moments of closeness with these self-absorbed men, who ultimately leave her to ponder her secrets alone. Duncan brilliantly uses dream and memory to write of the solitary, inner world of not only Eleanora, but of all women.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Williams, Lisa
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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