In this smart and original story collection, Heidi Jon Schmidt paints her subjects with delicate care. What emerges are characters that are both flawed and also absolutely lovable—flighty women married to unbearably academic men, a diligent psychotherapy patient obsessed with her middle-aged allergic therapist, a gaggle of would-be writers too concerned with marketing strategy to put words on paper. Sparkling with keen wit and sharp insight, this funny and observant story collection marks the return of an extremely gifted writer.
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Heidi Jon Schmidt is the author of a well-received story collection The Rose Thieves. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she teaches at the Fine Arts Work Center.
The cover of this delightful second collection features a Rorschach blot that manages to suggest both a human heart and a plucked chicken both fitting metaphors for Schmidt's main characters. They are women (mostly) whose relationships to love and loved ones are full of longing, disappointment and hilarity; even when the women are vulnerable, they're defiantly so. Several of the 10 stories pit an intelligent, impulsive female narrator against the kind of older, academic husband whose scholarly brilliance is matched only by his ignorance of all things practical. When love's never fully requited and the heart's a swampy mess, what's to be done? As the narrator in "Songbirds" says, "I freely admit it; love is I am absurd. But this wasn't love, it was marriage!" In the title story, a charmingly impetuous wife with a "schoolgirl's heart" becomes obsessed with her fusty, allergic and very smug therapist. Never mind that her marriage is reasonably happy she attempts, over the course of several years, to seduce Dr. Karp, wondering at one point if she can kosher herself like a turkey and thereby become more appealing to him. Schmidt (The Rose Thieves) brilliantly blends comic scenes with moving reminiscences in "Out of Purmort," in which jury duty on a drunk-driving case forces a woman to question her successful escape from the "Purmort stain" of her small town's poverty and alcoholism. Not every story is masterful, but each presents a new and utterly believable world inhabited by a narrator one can't help loving despite (or more likely, because of) her faults. This collection has so many shining moments of humor, of heartbreak, of grace that readers might find themselves asking: why aren't more stories this good? (Sept.)Forecast: No pallid literary painting by the numbers here these stories are capable of moving readers and should earn Schmidt a loyal, if small, following.
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Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780007122882 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0983769
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