Whose World Is This?

Lee Begole Montgomery, Author
Lee Begole Montgomery, Author University of Iowa Press $15 (93p) ISBN 978-1-58729-614-7
Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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Memoirist and Tin House executive editor Montgomery (The Things Between Us) makes her fiction debut with this wise, heart-wrenching short story collection, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Concerned largely with the emotional and physical pain of modern life, one representative tale, ""Arts and Crafts of American WASPs,"" finds a childless young wife considering motherhood through memory, an ovulation kit and her own mom's detritus: ""My mother has sent me her life in boxes and pieces of old wood and I study these like artifacts."" The capacity for self-defeat comes beautifully to life in the title story, about a young woman dealing with average twenty-something issues (""doing a lot of drugs, trying to find God, trying to figure out how many men I could make love me"") who unexpectedly falls in love with a paralyzed man: ""we'd lie in bed facing each other in darkness... and he would tell me how it would feel if it could happen."" Montgomery is a realist with a talent for stringing together perfectly captured moments such as this, evoking Lori Moore or Antonya Nelson with a skillful balance of the beautiful and the grotesque, graced with glints of humor. Though her morose introspection can overwhelm, Montgomery more than makes up for a lack of cheer or action through her characters' lived-in authenticity. A quick, inspired read, this collection bodes well for Montgomery's future in fiction.
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