Home Remedies

Angela Pneuman, Author . Harcourt $14 (230p) ISBN 978-0-15-603075-5

In this dark debut, Pneuman weaves together a collection of short stand-alone fictional stories that share a roughly similar thread of conservative Christian faith in the background. A 24-year-old woman is paid to collect money for charity outside department stores while sharing a twin bed and her neuroses with her young niece in "The Bell Ringer"; "Borderland" portrays a young girl dealing with the ways people hurt each other. In "The Beachcomber," two overweight girls long for attractiveness and male attention, but self-destructive behavior (and a rather gruesome sexual initiation) is a grim foreshadowing. "Invitation," one of the best pieces, explores the obsessive fear of a young Christian teen about premarital sex and how that fear plays out in a camp meeting where her father is the evangelist. The themes are often gritty: mental illness, cruelty, divorce, sexual exploration and coping with death. Pneuman's fine literary writing is excellent enough to land several of these pieces in publications such as The Best American Short Stories ("All Saints Day") and Ploughshares ("The Long Game"). Although readers may sometimes feel a cold disconnect with her characters, Pneuman's knowledge of the lingo of conservative Christianity lends authenticity to her narratives, and in several, she intimately portrays the interior lives and concerns of young girls. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 09/04/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-544-35702-0
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