The Edge of Marriage: Stories

Hester Kaplan, Author
Hester Kaplan, Author University of Georgia Press $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8203-2148-6
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-393-32144-9
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-8203-3517-9
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Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, this debut collection of nine stories focuses on the turning points and crises of family life, when the very foundations of primary relationships are tested. In ""Would You Know It Wasn't Love?"" and ""From Where We've Fallen,"" two sets of older married couples feel their stability and careful equilibrium threatened when a troubled grown child moves back home. ""The Edge of Marriage"" concerns a couple barely able to withstand the death of the wife's close female friend of 30 years; the husband, who narrates, must cope with his wife's depression and her suffocating dependence on him as her only remaining friend. Illness and age shade relationships in many of the tales. The wife of ""Dysaesthesia"" stays with her philandering spouse, who has just lost his hand in a car accident, not because she feels pity for him, but because she is unwilling to disrupt her beloved young daughter's life. Interesting variations on traditional family situations are probed as well. In ""Claude Comes and Goes,"" a promiscuous theater critic suddenly re-enters the life of his former college sweetheart and her husband, seeking a family to care for him in the last stages of terminal cancer. The man who runs a resort in ""Live Life King-Sized"" finds his business threatened by the presence of an elderly AIDS-stricken guest who wishes to die at the resort. For Kaplan's characters, the depth and complexity of shared experience compensates for the anguish of pain, and the stories, full of sensory detail and blunt physical description, are spiked with revelations, small and large. (Sept.)
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