Struggle for Happiness

Ruthann Robson, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-25219-9
Searching for happiness while aiming for tenure and social justice, many of the characters in law professor, poet and novelist Robson's (Masks; A.K.A.) clumsily quirky second short story collection are lesbians in academia and/or legal professions. But they don't all face the same issues: some of the nine stories tackle the glamour of deconstructionist theory and PoMo politics, while others make pointed statements about disability, environmental concerns, the literary/publishing world and lesbian culture in general. One well-crafted piece is ""re-view,"" in which a young aspiring novelist thrills at the chance of writing a review of a famous female author's disappointing new book. Just after the heroine's smug, cutting review hits print, the author commits suicide. A few tales venture into the lives of performers, to uneven effect. The story of a lesbian ballerina with hopes of dancing Giselle, ""Pas de Deux"" starts off with prickly, vague characters, but quickly warms up with some of the most surprising plot twists and poetic language in the book. ""Women's Music"" however, begins with the interesting premise of a female rock star within a feminist community, but turns clumsily elegiac along the way. When the stories seem off-balance, it's because Robson's characters and themes are heavy-handed, even self-righteous and abrasive. But the author does have a talent for structuring her language with a postmodern edge, and most of this collection's strength is derived from her verbal zip. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-312-27395-8
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-312-27329-3
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