Heat & Other Stories

J. Whitebird, Author
J. Whitebird, Author Arbiter Press $7.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-9621385-1-5
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
A young child witnesses a mother's bloody miscarriage. A terrified boy hides for hours in a stuffy closet to escape parental brutality. A Russian man, unable to provide food or warmth for his mentally disturbed son, prepares to turn him over to the state. Throughout this fine collection, Whitebird depicts scenes that are tense with the expectation of physical and psychical horror; the language is portentous, full of subtle foreshadowing of the tragic possibilities of life. In ``Blades,'' the most compelling of these stories, Rosa Maria and her sister, Carmelita, enter a church seeking refuge from a ruthless suitor who has killed their brother. As they pray, Carmelita is raped by a priest, who stabs Rosa Maria when she comes to her sister's aid. The author, a gifted storyteller, has a gothic sensibility that makes us particularly aware of the degenerative effects of time. Decaying ramshackle houses provide symbolic settings for deteriorating lives in ``Miss Lucy and Miss Harley'' and ``#1 Dennis Street.'' Whitebird ( North Beach Papers ) allows for few happy endings, and only after years of pain do the characters in the ``Circle of Stones'' and ``Pass it On'' achieve any sort of joy. (Dec.)
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