From Publishers Weekly
From the formidable imagination of Scott (Pulitzer Prize–finalist The Manikin
, etc.) comes a collection of 10 stories that stalk across the 20th century to document love and its consequences. In "Heaven and Hell," a bride and groom seal their vows with a lengthy kiss after he returns home, blind, from WWI. "The Lucite Cane" sees an elderly man navigating a slew of literal and metaphorical modern-day hazards in June 2000. A young Harlem mother abandons her daughter to join a cultlike church in "The Queen of Sheba Is Afraid of Snow." The teenage grifter at the center of "Or Else" travels from New York to Europe and steals from her benefactor. In the title story, a New York advertising executive sent upstate to finalize a contract encounters trouble on his drive home to his wife and baby. Although the characters struggle differently, they are almost all observed by a Paul Bowles–style godless eye-in-the-sky that lays bare human frailty with almost unbearable acuity; the two first-person stories, "Yip" and "Across from the Shannonso," don't convey the same gravitas. But Scott's craft can be breathtaking—and her perceptions uncanny. (Dec. 11)
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Scott's The Manikin
(1996) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Various Antidotes
(1991) were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and she is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Award. So it should come as no surprise that her collection of short stories is a stylish and apt depiction of everyday life. In the first story, an estranged father has made it to his daughter's wedding only to find himself trapped in the bathroom of his hotel room. In "Stumble,"
a young woman labeled as easy makes her way to New York for excitement. What she finds is harsh reality. The most creative story, "Yip,
has a Broadway impresario trying to get permission to build a play around a mentally ill young boy. "He would just stand there in the spotlight, his body pressing against the empty space behind him, and then, at last, he would utter a single yip." Each of these quietly well-crafted stories takes the reader to a place or an emotion that is palpable and enlightening. And each one will leave a lasting impression. Elizabeth DickieCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved