Not a Chance

Jessica Treat, Author
Jessica Treat, Author F2c $19.95 (169p) ISBN 978-1-57366-089-1
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Women in varying states of desperation and instability struggle to forge connections, either real or imagined, with the strangers who surround them in the nine tales of Treat's second short story collection. In the title story, a young woman investigates a fellow ex-pat's disappearance in Mexico City. Exploring the beach resort where the acquaintance spent her last known days with a Mexican lover, the narrator conjures the couple's fly-by-night love affair with such vividness that she begins to appropriate the woman's last days as her own. ""Honda, a Novella"" features the hapless and unemployed Melanie Maddox, who mails a letter to an old grade-school teacher, ""borrows"" a car, ""liberates"" a neighbor's Labrador and invents a son named Honda, eliciting various interactions with the denizens of her small town. Treat's prose is occasionally lackluster (when a narrator leaves her boyfriend, the act is ""as secret as a sewn up pillow with none of the inseams showing"") and a few too many of her heroines indulge in nostalgia for doomed relationships. The eccentricities of the characters (a gay man who once ate ants, a neighbor who wears no socks and a watch around his ankle) are often appealing, however, and the isolation of the inhabitants of the lonely worlds Treat (A Robber in the House) imagines is, at times, haunting. (Oct.)
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