Fiction Alice Elliott Dark Naked to the Waist

ISBN 13: 9780395578186

Naked to the Waist

3.53 avg rating
( 17 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780395578186: Naked to the Waist

Short stories depict men and women's desires for love, control, success, revenge, and independence

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A promising first collection of six stories, two novella- length, that deal with early middle-age and midlife crisis, mostly from a female perspective. The shorter offerings here are more sharply rendered than the novellas. In ``Buddy,'' Charlie Whitman, a photographer, uses the excuse of an abusive father and an unhappy childhood to avoid commitment to Claudine, his French girlfriend. When Claudine is called away to France, Charlie trains her dog Buddy, changing the animal so much--and revealing so much of himself and his need for control--that the couple's relationship is doomed upon her return. ``The Comfortable Apartment'' places a battered wife in a no-win situation: she can stay on with her abusive husband or depend on her sister, Josie, who is so devoted to spontaneous mobility that she offers assistance only to leave for South Africa. Of the novellas, the title story, a meandering affair, follows Lucy Langworthy, 30, to the Florida Keys, where she at first languishes, in love with companion and soul-mate Nick, who's homosexual, and then impulsively marries Vietnam vet Dennis, who turns out to be a dangerous drunk. ``The Interior Studio,'' more coherently structured as a conflict between art and the biological clock, pits Lela's painting against her desire for love and family when she meets Lewis Frame and gets pregnant at age 38. She resolves her dilemma rather absurdly by painting a series of curly-haired babies. ``The Good Listener'' is a well-written clich‚ about a writer who neglects a female student in order to have an affair with a colleague, then gets his comeuppance at a reading. At her best, Dark reveals the dislocations of contemporary life, while in her lesser moments she settles for banalities that are only a notch above popular fiction. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this bittersweet first collection of six short stories and novellas, Dark deftly plumbs the minds of her complex, appealing protagonists, revealing the crux of their emotional conflicts. Her upper-middle-class, artistic, psychologically astute, conversationally clever and vaguely unhappy characters resemble those of TV's thirtysomething. They struggle with relationships and identity crises, trying to determine what they truly want and to summon the will to obtain it. A 38-year-old painter hoping to jump-start her career wrestles with the decision to have a baby. A 31-year-old woman suffering from unrequited love for a homosexual man rushes into an engagement with another man, misunderstanding both their motives. Realizing how important his wife is to him, a successful novelist ends an extramarital affair in an attempt to keep from destroying both his marriage and his creative process. Dark's message--that to find freedom and happiness, you must overcome fears, take risks and assume responsibility for your life--is old news, but her tidy plots and sparkling dialogue avoid cliche, and her characters, while familiar types, acquire dimension.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Alice Elliott Dark
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