Hush

Anne Stone, Author
Anne Stone, Author Insomniac Press $14.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-895837-58-2
Hardcover - 152 pages - 978-1-55483-047-3
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Canadian writer Stone's slim second novel (after Jacks: A Gothic Gospel) chronicles in muted, oblique prose the harsh realities of sex and death in a poor community in Quebec. Roses De'ath has conflicted relationships with her mentally unstable mother, Maddie; her father, Potter, whose scaly ""birdleg'' relegates him to the social periphery; and her stepfather, August, a devious magician and Roses's lover. She works at the hotel in De'ath Sound once owned by her mother, who was institutionalized after the drowning death of her lover Bathhouse Jones. Roses dreams about death in various forms as she suffers the clumsy advances of men who look to her for ""holes to fill."" As vacant as Loralie, the scarred local prostitute, Roses knows ""the feeling of being beaten and beaten but miserably, not touched."" Roses's former schoolmate, Bat, understands how she craves a caress, and desiring her, he is sucked into a comfortless triangle. The unremitting bleakness of this tale of desperate survival, in which people cling without bonding and connect without caring, is seldom relieved. The women, in particular, succumb to violence and anomie, and there seems no escape as desperation knits the players together. But Stone makes an attempt at prose poetry in her short chapters, and when she is successful, her dreamlike tone and singular descriptions are seductive. Roses, obsessed with proving that hot water must boil faster than cold, finally knows there is no real truth, no story that can bind two people against the world. (Sept.)
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