DELICATE: Stories

Mary Sojourner, Author . Scribner $13 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2970-8

Sojourner, an essayist and NPR commentator, regularly evokes the fragile beauty of the American Southwest in her work. Here, she writes about "the great sisterhood of single aging women" in 18 short, nuanced tales that capture the pathos and possibilities of confronting love, sex, intimacy and death long after children have grown and husbands have split. The writing brims with spirituality, like the desert where most of her pieces are set: a place where the sky is "the color of ripe cantaloupe" and the "mountains black against a horizon of drifting tourmaline light." In "Bear House," Sojourner presents her doppelgänger, Sheila, a 54-year-old writer living alone in a cabin that lacks plumbing. She has just learned that her best friend, Rae, is HIV-positive and the two comfort each other amid the ancient Hopi monuments of the Arizona desert. "What They Write in Other Countries" is about Antoinette Green, a creative writing teacher numbed by the complacency of her students and by her own failure to embrace life. Sojourner is a whiz at scene setting, and she has a flair for pithy character descriptions. But not all of her pieces satisfy. Some, like "Binky," about a group of would-be activists en route to a demonstration, are little more than sketches, too wispy and lacking in drama to impress deeply. Then there are her repetitive renderings of men, mostly Vietnam vets who felt "more there in that war" than they've ever felt since. In the poignant title piece, just such a man cares for a single mother dying of cancer; he has known her for five years, since he met her in a strip bar. The connection between them is intense and palpable, demonstrating that Sojourner is at her best when she conjures the "bad, beautiful magic" that brings people together—and also tears them apart. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4165-8953-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.