JENNY AND THE JAWS OF LIFE

Jincy Willett, Author, David Sedaris, Foreword by , with a foreword by David Sedaris. St. Martin's/Dunne $12.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-30618-2

First published in 1987, this debut collection of morbidly funny stories has been given a well-deserved second life. Willett is a marvelous philosopher and humanist, even when writing about subjects that beg for a knee-jerk reaction. In "Résumé," a run-of-the-mill man gives God a quick rundown of his life. He cheated on his wife once, but notes that he "cried once on someone else's account" while watching a televised unfolding of American POWs returning to Washington and asks God to consider granting immortality in return for nothing, just as "a fresh approach." "Under the Bed" is narrated by a woman who was beaten and raped in her own home. She says the rapist "measurably improved the quality of my life," because she no longer lives in fear of the unknown. In "Mr. Lazenbee," a sixth grader manipulates her school's new campaign to teach children about "touches that feel good" and "touches that feel funny" by pointing fingers at an easy neighborhood target. Willett is alive to the absurd in American culture and the tragicomic struggle for dignity that we often lose. "My mother is dying. My husband's mistress has myasthenia gravis. My younger daughter just gave all of her trust money to the Church of the Famous Maker.... I can't sleep, and I'm not so much depressed as humiliated, both by slapstick catastrophe and by the minute tragedy of my wasted talents," laments Willett's funniest subject, an advice columnist who has an existential crisis in epistolary form. Though some of Willett's observations are predictable, the best of these stories still seem ahead of their time. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 248 pages - 978-0-312-00614-3
Paperback - 258 pages - 978-0-312-42810-5
Hardcover - 274 pages - 978-0-7553-0449-3
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4668-0753-2
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7553-0448-6
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