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*Starred Review* Goss' contribution to the exciting showcase of the new weirdness, Feeling Very Strange (2006), is a version of Sleeping Beauty that unfolds in history as well as time: when the prince arrives for the great awakening, he's a bulldozer driver clearing the forest. That story opens this collection of others that are frequently as incidentally funny. Comedy is here a seasoning, however, of the richly astringent flavor of fine literary fantasy, in which happy endings are tentative, temporary, or even repugnant. In "Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold," possible paradise is spurned because it requires death in the here and now. In "Sleeping with Bears," the narrator's best friend weds a bear, and how can that turn out? (Still, at the end, the narrator is dating the groom's brother.) In "Letters from Budapest," their recipient, a dealer of objets d'art, learns that his aspiring artist brother has found the ideal teacher but may never paint again; meanwhile, that Old Master--actually a mistress--wants the dealer to be hers. More conventionally but oh-so-satisfyingly developed are the stories in which the witch Miss Emily Gray and the turn-of-the-century North Carolina girl Rose appear. Both are in the volume closer, "Lessons with Miss Gray," about learning how to obtain one's heart's desire--and it doesn't seem too hasty to exclaim, "Classic!" Ray Olson
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Goss's collection of 16 gothic stories possesses a spare, surprising beauty, though her modern-day characters, like those in fairy tales, are constrained by the hard lessons she sets out to teach. The three linked stories, "Miss Emily Gray," "Conrad" and "Lessons with Miss Gray," turn on the character of the title, a dark Mary Poppins–like woman who exists to grant children their hearts' desires—often at a high price. Goss layers the Victorian tone and everyday magic of these tales with commentary on familial negotiations and the grave consequences for heedless behavior. Other stories consider family cohesion and snobbery, as in "Sleeping with Bears," about a Southern belle who exhibits "no originality" until she marries a bear named Trout Catcher. Her sister quickly comes to understand the attraction. In "Lily, with Clouds," a bohemian woman dying of cancer returns to her blue-blooded family in Virginia, where her conventional sister can't help judging her unusual life. Though Goss (The Rose in Twelve Petals and Other Stories) crafts these delicate stories with tight control and wit, in toto they become something of a moral sledgehammer. (Aug.)
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Book Description Prime Books, 2007. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M080955741X
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