A debut collection of short stories transforms the English language to produce intriguing effects, in tales that chronicle her mother's long, agonizing death
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Holland (Writing/Univ. of Florida) uses a fluttery and potent style in this debut collection of short stories, but she often indulges in excesses of imagery and language. Most of her characters appear to be Southerners--occasionally verging on Faulknerian caricatures--and Holland upholds the region's tradition with tales that contain some fairly gothic behavior. In ``Absolution'' a woman who has been crowned banana queen describes her relationships with her lover (``he ain't the hitching kind'') and her mother, who ``sometimes...wants my mouth on her breast, like when I was her child.'' A man shaves off all of his bedridden wife's body hair in ``Winter Bodies''; the waitress narrator of ``Delicious'' sees a customer chew all of his food, then remove it from his mouth and replace it on his plate. There's a great deal of illness and dying, as well, most of it slow and painful. A talkative man loses his ability to speak after a car accident in ``The Change in Union City.'' Being hand-fed Ethiopian food triggers memories of feeding an elderly father for the narrator of ``Amharic.'' The lengthy and problematic story ``Orbit,'' which shows a brother and sister caring for their sick mother to the best of their abilities after their father leaves, brings out the best and the worst in Holland's writing. It contains wonderful images--attempting to coerce captured turtles from their shells, the siblings ``try to pry them out with kitchen knives and pliers, to burn them out with candles, mute things, toothless''-- but in the end they pile up without connecting much, and it becomes difficult to locate the narrative within all the symbolism. An intriguing new voice, at the moment a little too enamored of showy cadenzas and neglectful of basic melody. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Strange, glittering, incantatory language marks Holland's debut short-fiction collection. These odd, occasionally impenetrable pieces were not written for narrative addicts; though certain events do occur, they are seen only hazily through a mesmerizing--and sometimes fustian--web of words and style. In "Orbit," a brother and sister offer alternating impressionistic accounts of the summer when their father abandoned their dying mother, leaving them alone on the family farm. Looping, cadenced sentences ("I did not have shoes. I did not have Bingo with me going there or coming back, and coming back I came by foot and I did not have shoes.") convey the anarchic rhythms of this macabre idyll. "Delicious," a disturbing exploration of the undercurrents of--among other things--the relationship between a waitress and a restaurant customer, is narrated almost entirely in wickedly accurate restaurant lingo. The brief but chilling "Winter Bodies" concerns a ritual act--possibly a highly personal sort of last rite--carried out by a man upon the drugged-out and/or diseased body of his lover. "The Change in Union City," one of the collection's more accessible stories, is the chronicle of the declining fortunes of a small town and its most colorful, vital inhabitant. If they can get past the gothic excess, sophisticated readers will enjoy the challenge of these provocative, nearly hypnotic stories.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition... New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994. First edition, first printing. Hardound. Stories and a novella. New/New. A perfect unread copy of this talented author's debut book. Blurbs by Frederick Busch and Padgett Powell. Fiction. Bookseller Inventory # y7612
Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0679404813
Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110679404813
Book Description Knopf (New York), 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First edition, first printing. Hardbound. Brand new! Very Fine in a very fine dust jacket. A pristine unread copy, without marks of any kind. Comes with archival-quality mylar dust jacket protector. NOT price clipped. Shipped in well padded box. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. No inscriptions. You cannot find a better copy. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # Signed-Fiction-H