Sarah's Laughter and Other Stories

Susan Engberg, Author, Judith B. Jones, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $18 (194p) ISBN 978-0-394-58556-7
Engberg ( Pastorale ) makes readers care deeply about her characters in these six sensitive, beautifully crafted stories. In the title novella, a retired newspaperman makes peace with his ex-wife who walked out on him 20 years ago. Belatedly awakening to life, he copes with his unmarried, pregnant daughter and mentally unbalanced next-door neighbor, less than half his age, who has a mad crush on him. ``I tell myself that small acts do add up to a world,'' says the menopausal mother in ``Smart Baby.'' Her vivid, recurring dreams about nursing babies are perhaps symbolic of her relationship with her self-absorbed, TV-addicted husband and with a newly divorced, supercilious, alcoholic friend to whom she gave tea and sympathy. ``On the Late Bus'' is a kinetic portrait of an adolescent girl shoved aside by her divorced parents and their new mates. The jumpy waitress in ``The Dead Also Eat'' will be instantly recognizable to any reader who has ever tried to juggle the daily grind with a personal life headed nowhere. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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