We Are the Stories We Tell

Wendy Martin, Author, Wendy Martin, Other
Wendy Martin, Author, Wendy Martin, Other Pantheon Books $29.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-394-58179-8
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Embracing Anne Tyler's portrait of a wife saddled with an inept husband who can't even fix a leaky faucet and Tama Janowitz's evocation of a hip, jaded New Yorker enslaved by a lover who holds the lease on their apartment, the women and girls in these 26 tales are complex personalities at the mercy of life's mundane cycles, woes and joys. The bulk of these mostly excellent pieces from accomplished writers date from the 1970s and '80s. Jayne Ann Phillips's protagonist unwillingly colludes to keep her mother ignorant of the latter's impending death; an abortion leads to frigidity and divorce for Alice Walker's heroine; a stepmother eggs on her husband to beat his daughter in a story by Alice Munro; Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates target the ambiguities of pregnancy and adolescence, respectively; Becky Birtha's aging black lesbian's dead lover coaxes her into the arms of Old Man Death. Martin, who edited An American Sisterhood , rounds out the omnibus with satisfying earlier stories from Eudora Welty et al. that hark back to outmoded values. The only discordant note here is Paule Marshall's melodramatic depiction of a Jewish man who seeks to ease his personal despair by possessing a black woman and, through her, the collective suffering of her race. (Apr.)
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