The 22 stories that make up this distinguished collection reaffirm Gordon's ability to create fully dimensional characters who speak in a variety of authentic voices. Though the narratives are poetically compressed, Gordon eschews minimalism and uses incident to sustain narrative energy. In a trio of linked vignettes, ""Eileen,'' ``Agnes'' and ``Delia,'' and in ``The Neighborhood'' and ``The Friends of the O'Reilley's'' Gordon shows once again that she understands her Irish characters to their very souls, and she subtly conveys the hold of religion on their subconscious. Many of the stories are seen through the eyes of children trying to fathom ``the incomprehensible maze of adult life''; in one, a little girl imagines she has a thorn in her heart in which she has captured her dead father's voice. The strongest stories, notably ``Now I Am Married'' and ``Out of the Fray,'' are about women who have known or who fear the agonizing limbo of divorce, the sundering of relationships, the final abandonment of death. In most of the tales, their protagonists learn costly lessons about their futures, gaining insights into the ``pain and trouble'' of life; the young boy of the title story is anguished when his concept of security is wrenched away. ``A Writing Lesson,'' an ironic analysis of modern fiction, closes the collection. (April 10)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1987 Release date: 03/01/1987 Genre: Fiction
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