The Lifeguard

Mary Morris, Author
Mary Morris, Author Nan A. Talese $21.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-26170-8
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-312-18694-4
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-17697-2
Prebound-Other - 180 pages - 978-0-613-16375-0
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After a 12-year hiatus, novelist and travel-writer Morris (Crossroads; The Waiting Room) returns to the form that earned the Rome Prize for her debut collection, Vanishing Animals. Although the 10 stories in the new volume are set in various locales, from a ski resort to the Caribbean, all focus on the quiet crises that can rock her mainly female protagonists' middle-class existences. In ""Souvenirs,"" an adolescent girl is finally invited to accompany her parents on their annual trip to Florida. The unraveling of her illusions about her parents (and the way she acts out her disappointment) leads to a moving rite of passage. Marital stress, skillfully rendered, is the focus of several stories. In ""The Wall,"" a second wife tries to erase the memory of her precursor by painting over the mural in their kitchen--a gift from her husband's first marriage--and discovers the void at the center of their relationship. In ""The Snowmaker's Wife,'' a woman finds solace in an Indian myth after she realizes that her husband is having an affair. The sole male protagonist, in the title story, also experiences his vulnerability, in a potentially tragic situation. As elsewhere in Morris's fiction, occasional intrusions of the symbolic (and even supernatural) are made to seem natural and necessary. This is less true in ""Losing Track,"" in which a visit to the site of dinosaur tracks by the parents of a runaway girl is freighted with more symbolic weight than it can bear. Such flaws do not undermine this poised and articulate collection, however. (June)
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