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Lately: Stories

Sara Pritchard, Author . Mariner $12.95 (190p) ISBN 978-0-618-61004-4

Set somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region ("Pennsy-hi-o") and featuring characters from a disconnected family, these 11 stories from Pritchard (Cracked ) are well-calibrated forays into unwieldy moments of decision. "The Pink Motel" begins with the adult narrator's assertion that while in Florence the year before, she began thinking of becoming a Roman Catholic, then quickly segues into her memory of losing her father, who literally vanished from their Zanesville, Ohio, house: his disappearance prompts her lifelong pursuit to reinvent herself (the Catholicism just being the latest example). In "The Wonders of the World," elderly father Reggie is still physically sickened by the loss of his peace-activist daughter, Faye, killed in a freak explosion years before—leaving Reggie only his glib, prosperous, unlovable son, Albert (and Albert's new family) to visit on holidays. "The Honor of Your Presence" builds up to a zany, after-26-years-of-marriage divorce party for the narrator's aphasic sister, Maggie, prompting all kinds of sweet and sour memories; while "Late October, Early April" delineates the poignant ramifications a generation later of a mother's prescribed use of the fetus-harming drug thalidomide. The title story's narrator is a middle-aged, twice-married woman resigned to watching her daughter make the same mistakes she did. Pritchard's shutter-click views of her characters capture their messy human lives with a sometimes startling clarity. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/09/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
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