Martha Clark Cummings Mono Lake: Stories

ISBN 13: 9780964620124

Mono Lake: Stories

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9780964620124: Mono Lake: Stories
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Mono Lake, a collection of nine stories set in New York City, Florida, and France, deals with lesbians' quests for love and understanding, for identity, for community, in the midst of confusion and violence. At the center of each of these richly sensual and beautifully written stories is a woman trying to come to terms with the kind of life she has been given to live. The stories raise questions. What is the relationship between sex and love? How does it feel to be really noticed and honored? How can we be with ourselves and be with our families? How do we integrate our personal lives and our professional obligations? What is the process by which we unlock ourselves and discover who we really are?

In these stories, recognizable places and situations, seemingly simple images and physical contexts take on significance as Cummings explores the yearning, discovery, pain, and joy of relationships. In the final story, "Lillian's Piano" two women snuggle next to each other under blankets in the comfort of their home. As they speak of their appreciation of each other, "the wind rattles the window frames, tossing another handful of sleet against the glass." And by the end of the story the reader knows how it feels to have her own windows shaken, her eyes opened, and about the human connection and warmth that is at the center of the coldness of the world.

The stories in this collection have won the author awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Astraea Foundation Lesbian Writers Fund, and Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

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Review:

The title story in this slim but impressive collection draws on the bleak existence of the inhabitants of Mono Lake, a small tourist town in the Eastern Sierra that shuts down every winter, allowing the residents, like beautiful Annie, to lapse into despair and drug addiction. What saves "Mono Lake" and the eight other stories here from descent into melodrama are their sharply observed details. When Annie tries to go on cleaning rooms at the motel on her first day without heroin, it's the smells--suddenly intense, moldy, slimy--that get her. And when Robin, returning home for Christmas in "Absence Makes the Heart," glances at the stockings laid out for Santa, she notices that her mother has carefully unstitched the name of her sister's ex-husband from his stocking and superimposed her new husband's name. Cummings offers a clear-eyed and generous picture of lesbian lives, and one only wishes the book were longer. --Regina Marler

From the Back Cover:

"These stories are carefully developed and beautifully written, in an understated narrative style that demonstrates a special perception of the sorrows and limitations of our lives." Mary Vaughn, Cambridge University Press. "The stories of MONO LAKE are bold, wise, unpredictable, like life itself. Do yourself a favor: take this book home with you and treat yourself to the deep pleasure of this dazzling and rhapsodic collection." Jaime Manrique, author of Latin Moon over Manhattan.

This impressive debut by ASTRAEA Lesbian Writers Fund Award Winner, Martha Clark Cummings, draws us into the worlds of a variety of contemporary lesbians. A young heroin addict, trapped in a small town in the Eastern Sierra, works as a cleaning woman and longs for the local coffee shop waitress... A college professor deeply committed to another woman, with two children and a stable ten-year relationship, is terrified of being accused of sexual harassment by a young female student. In these stories filled with longing, danger, and possibilities, Cummings reveals the lives of lesbians with astonishing compassion and honesty. An original voice. A voice to fall in love with. Martha Clark Cummings is one of the best lesbian writers today.

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