Throwing Knives

Molly Best Tinsley, Author
Molly Best Tinsley, Author Ohio State University Press $38.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8142-0847-2
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-8142-5051-8
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Awarded Ohio State's Sandstone Prize in Short Fiction, this debut collection of 12 stories is full of unassuming tales peopled with frightened characters who face--and sometimes surmount--dislocation, divorce and despair. In a series of five interrelated stories, 11-year-old Cynthia greets her father's new assignment to a naval post in Stockholm with wary resignation. The language barrier, her mother's unhappiness and the coolness of her only Swedish friend, Pia, work against Cynthia as she moves into adolescence and struggles with unfamiliar feelings. Most of Tinsley's protagonists are young women--a girl who confronts mom's new boyfriend, a girl who gets pregnant and leaves home, a girl with an eating disorder who has a mental breakdown during holiday dinner--and they learn young that the world will thwart them. Tinsley's better stories focus on older characters, like the 60-year-old widow who takes a nude figure-drawing class in the thought-provoking ""Affairs of Strangers."" Refusing to resign herself to depression and isolation, and rejecting her sister's suggestion that she move to a ""community"" called Leisurama, the widow discovers the freedom of switching places with the class model, if only for one night. In the affecting ""Holiday,"" a breast cancer survivor with self-esteem issues and an inattentive husband follows a school of beautiful fish into the sea and never looks back. Tinsley is a competent writer with a clean style and consistent tone, and the best stories here are agile expressions of longing and resiliency. (May) FYI: Tinsley is the first professor emerita in the history of the U.S. Naval Academy.
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