Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone: Stories

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9780060161392: Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone: Stories

Many of the stories in this collection are evocations of ordinary American lives. Others look at the effects of the Gulf War on a child whose parents have separated, and on an international group of writers in a hotel in Rotterdam.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

In a second collection--set mostly in the US but also in London, Wales, Amsterdam, and Spain--Wiggins (John Dollar, 1989; Herself in Love, 1987) brings together three stories about mortality, a couple of parodistic but effective voice pieces, and several others that get lost in wordplay. ``Grocer's Daughter,'' a moving memoir (``I am shameless in the way I love my father'') intersplices a matter-of-fact narrative with lists. ``Angels,'' about an abandoned child left with her Greek grandmother Fanny in ``the hottest place in all Virginia,'' uses a slew of relatives and long dense passages to convey the tumbledown reality of a child, ``the women disappearing from the family right and left like pocket money.'' Likewise, the very brief ``A Cup of Jo'' juxtaposes old man Harry's search for words to bring alive a long-ago morning of trout fishing with a young niece's attempts to understand him after his apparent stroke. Of the rest, ``Balloons 'n Tunes'' is a tour de force about an old man, Carl Tanner, who keeps talking to his wife after her death, much to the consternation of nosy neighbor Dolores. ``Bio Slepcu'' uses a sleazy voice out of film noir to capture, as though in amber, a womanizer (who ``robbed them blind, of bits of selves'') meeting a former lover who's very sick. The others are either episodic or so odd-angled in their linguistic trickery that they remain strange and incomplete, resulting in long liquid passages of punning prose (``Eso Es'') or clever metafictional repartee (``Zelf Paortret'') but not much else. An interesting exception is ``Croeso I Gymru,'' about a couple on the lam in Wales--a story that compellingly captures the flavor of exile. Some of these, then, remain too strange or come off as too clever by half, but Wiggins is always adroit and sometimes haunting in her effects. -- Copyright 1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Powerful, idiosyncratic voices commanding immediately felt emotions distinguish nearly all 13 stories in Wiggins's ( John Dollar ) second collection . Most moving are the tales told by old people--a man struggles to recall the words that will summon up his memory of a friend in "A Cup of Jo"; a recent widower in "Balloons 'n' Tunes" frets angrily with a neighbor while trying to accommodate his wife's last wishes and accept her absence; a woman in "Shibboletboo" remembers the childhood cruelty that precipated the muteness of a recently deceased neighbor. Loss and its imminence permeate all these stories by Wiggins, who went into hiding when her then-husband, Salman Rushdie, was targeted for assassination by Islamic radicals. In "Croeso I Gymru," the narrator named Marianne, "on the lam in Wales" with her husband, tries to assimilate the unfamiliar customs and language as a way to combat fear. and helplessness. Often unfettered by conventional spelling or diction, Wiggins's stories take us directly to the hearts of her characters, displaying an imposing talent.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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