In Bed with the Exotic Enemy: Stories and Novella

Daniela Gioseffi, Author Avisson Press Inc $0 (202p) ISBN 978-1-888105-17-9
Politics and literature often mix uneasily, as evidenced by the stories in this well-meaning but uneven collection. Geoseffi, known primarily as a poet (Eggs in the Lake), can summon lyrical prose, as in ""Mrs. Prism's First Death,"" which tells of a prim woman's sexual awakening: ""Her body seemed to be gone from her. She felt as light as if she were flying or dangling from a web."" But more typically, in this collection, nuances of character are omitted for the purpose of delivering simple political messages. In ""The Bleeding Mimosa,"" a stereotypically racist white sheriff assaults a young civil rights activist. His one-note viciousness clunks as heavily as the protagonist's heroic self-sacrifice. ""Equal Opportunity Employer"" is an affirmative-action morality tale involving a black woman and her white male boss. As if the message weren't transparent enough, the story ends with a W.E.B. Dubois quotation: ""the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line."" Both ""Rosa in Televisionland"" and ""Donatuccio Goes to School in America,"" which focus on Italian-American immigrants, assert the superiority of Old World values to those of wasteful modern culture. But, like many of these stories, they hit a note of sentimentality that borders on patronization, ironically depriving Geoseffi's characters of the very dignity she clearly wishes to bestow on them. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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