On Ships at Sea

Madelyn M. Arnold, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (209p) ISBN 978-0-312-06463-1
Focused on the small moments that make up lives, Arnold's ( Bird-Eyes ) 14 stories all concern women who, while often tormented--by alcoholism, arthritis, divorce--are searching to define their lives. Whether escaping a backward town, getting a degree or having a baby, each is lonely, troubled by inner demons and societal pressures. Several characters are lesbians struggling to carve out a place in an inhospitable world. Examining love--unreciprocated, long-lived, new, brief or dangerous--Arnold reveals ``the loneliness in misunderstanding'' that affects people outside society's conventions. Her prose style, filled with an uneasy twisting of language, echoes the often troubled state of her characters. While sometimes depicting subtle emotions with a light touch, Arnold frequently employs a deliberate opacity in order to evoke atmosphere; the effect can confuse and distance readers. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 209 pages - 978-0-312-08867-5
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