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A .38 Special and a Broken Heart Paperback – May 1 1995


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From Publishers Weekly

This new volume in the Coffee-to-Go Short-Short Story series explores the tangled intersections of love and death. Most of the 29 selections are "momentary stories" that "fling themselves at you and you don't have any choice but catch them." A few stories?such as "Walking the Dog" and "Doors"?have minimal plot, becoming instead lyric statements about the painful coexistence of lovers. In other stories, Agee's female protagonists are scarred but spirited. The narrator of "Size" confesses to the local minister that she has "a white trash soul" and defies gossip to court a midget. The comic story "Invisible" reveals a motel maid's exquisite revenge (involving Super Glue and roach killer) against the traveling salesman who two-timed her. "Dead Space" is one of the murky and enigmatic stories in which Agee uses surreal images from dreams to capture the mundane reality of grief. Most of her tales are from the perspective of the wronged woman, but in "Listen" she anticipates and rebuts the objections of a pompous male critic. "I told him that you have to be careful when you break horses that you don't break their spirit too." This spirit resounds in the splendid economy of Agee's deft characterization and sharp, visceral imagery.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

There is a symbiosis between these three volumes of short stories. Each deals with the experience of being a woman, touching on the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship and exploring connections and limitations in women's lives. The stories are differentiated by the authors' style and approach. Agee's collection is part of the "Coffee-To-Go Short-Short Story" series. Indeed, some of the stories are extremely short-only one page. They are more appropriately vignettes, or fleeting impressions, and the writing style is stream of consciousness. Many of the stories feature an undercurrent of violence, and none is particularly upbeat. Three of Agee's books have been judged Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, and this one demonstrates the same fine quality. Similar in style to Agee's book, Redel's first collection comprises 16 stories. Her stories tend to be a little longer but again focus on women's issues. "A Day in the Park" portrays a mother covering her two sons with leaves and twigs and bedding down in the park for the night, not unlike animals. This tale is oddly moving, but others tend to be challenging as they have no discernible plots. Redel's book is not an easy, relaxing read. Unlike these two volumes, Lorenzo's contains nine longer stories. Lorenzo creates a rich atmosphere and weaves a plot into each of the tales. They are beautifully written accounts of women grappling with difficult choices, the consequences of biology, and their (sometimes philandering) men. Lorenzo won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for the title story of this collection. All three collections are recommended for general readers.
Kimberly G. Allen, MCI Corporate Information Resources Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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