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Combining the works of literary figures who have produced fictional accounts on unexpected pregnancy and abortion, an anthology features the writings of such individuals as Langston Hughes, Amy Hempel, Joan Didion, and William Faulkner.
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Good fiction anthologies, by framing and posing questions and concerns around a common theme, and by engaging readers in the evolution of its treatment and interpretation, contextualize their stories. Despite the strength of its individual offerings, Coming to Terms, whose editors achieved recognition for their earlier Mondo Elvis, Mondo Barbie and most recently Mondo Marilyn, does not fit the bill. Perhaps because of promises implied in its subtitle, the absence of any historical subtext is particularly disappointing. Surely a book featuring authors as temporally and sociologically diverse as William Faulkner, Audre Lorde and Fyodor Sologub should bend to the need for meaningful, chronological arrangement. Similarly, all but one or two authors are American, yet the editors felt no compunction either to broaden or further narrow their selection. The result is a too-slender book of stories that, though strong in their embrace of the emotional complications of abortion and their insistence that abortion can be the turning point of a life, remain ill served by the arbitrary, unreflective nature of the volume. That's a shame. A selection allowing Richard Brautigan, Langston Hughes and Alice Walker to illuminate each other's thoughts about this always timely, always volatile issue would have been wonderful. For now, each author stands as if alone, waiting for an anthology with more rigorous vision.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Dozens of short story and fiction excerpts provide a literary response to abortion, going beyond the usual medical focus to gather the varied literary reflections of such notable writers as Langston Hughes, Richard Brautigan and Gloria Naylor. -- Midwest Book Review
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