The Cloud of Unknowing

Mimi Lipson. Yeti (PGW, dist.) $14 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-891241-59-8
Lipson's promising debut collection of interlinking stories focuses on Schultz family, a Boston-area clan of frustrated Russophilic intellectuals through the eyes of Kitty Schultz. The stories in the first section of the book, entitled "Schultz Family," are by far the strongest. The author draws her character fondly but with an unforgiving eye; Lou, the patriarch of the family, is at best a complicated kind of parent, at worst a neglectful one. When entering a restaurant, he has a habit of steering his kids toward booths that have yet to be cleared just so he can swipe a few leftover onion rings. When Jonathan announces that he'd like to try a Monte Cristo, Lou tells him he won't like it, "hoping to redirect him to something less expensive." The stories in the sections that follow veer off as the daughter Kitty grows into adulthood, but in general lack the off-kilter originality of the Lou Schultz section, with a few sporadic gems. One particularly good one is the "the_lettuce," an oddly sweet story about the combination of hope and hopelessness that is Internet dating in the modern age. Though ultimately an uneven collection, Lipson's characters leave a lasting impression; readers will look forward to her future work. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/12/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
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