All It Takes: Stories

Patricia Volk, Author
Patricia Volk, Author Atheneum Books $17.95 (205p) ISBN 978-0-689-12061-9
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Those familiar with Volk's mordantly witty voice ( White Light ) will find her talent reconfirmed in some of these 15 stories exploring the various permutations of love. Most set in urban environments, the stories concern nice people trying to solve the mysteries of human relationships. The narrator of ``Blue Light'' is in love with an artist whose basement studio is bathed in blue light. Her husband, whom she also loves, exists in ``clear light''; their different worlds are both necessary to her. In the best tales, women protagonists strive to connect themselves to strong, vital emotions and permanent relationships; several explore the dynamics of family relations in which guilt plays a prominent part. The narrator of the title story finds that Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings suggest links to the artist's life, connections which she herself lacks. In ``Which Is Better?,'' a wife and mother obsessively asks herself that question relating to her family's behavior; even in bed with her husband, she discovers that doing the right thing is fake, doing the wrong thing is right. Some selections, including the three stories narrated by Letty in a voice edgy with neurosis, are overdone and grating. On the whole, however, there are enough satisfying stories here to make the collection a success. (Jan.)
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