Sweet Lucy Wine: Stories

Dabney Stuart, Author
Dabney Stuart, Author Louisiana State University Press $25.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1707-1
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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Stuart, a poet ( Narcissus Dreaming ) and the editor of Shenandoah , makes an auspicious debut with this first collection of short stories, many of which have appeared in literary magazines. Eight of the 10 pieces are about a young boy growing up in a small Southern town. The title character is the housekeeper, not a member of the family but ``a legacy from your Aunt Longwood,'' Mark Random's mother explains. Random, as he is called, suffers rivalries with his younger brother Luke, especially for the affection of the mysterious Sweet Lucy Wine. In ``Mr. Mann'' Random takes on a new and confusing sense of the world and his place in it: after accidentally witnessing the sexual encounter between Sweet Lucy Wine and the man who kills the chickens, Random must remain hiding in the bathtub behind the shower curtain while Sweet Lucy Wine uses the toilet. ``Anywhere else but here, he thinks, anybody else but me.'' Life's confusions and ambiguities appear overwhelming to this little boy, whom we finally see as an adult in ``Homespun.'' The collection ends with two powerful but unrelated stories. Stuart is a gifted writer, and much here is vivid and compelling. But the coda formed by these last stories abruptly jars the flow and balance of the book, which otherwise seems nearly a first-rate novel. (Feb.)
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