Not Where I Started from CL

Kate Wheeler, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (239p) ISBN 978-0-395-66515-2
Many of Wheeler's protagonists in this hypnotic debut collection of 10 stories are Americans in exotic cultures, seeking love or spiritual enlightenment. In ``Improving My Average,'' a lonely rich American girl raised in Colombia attempts to rescue her servant from an unscrupulous fiance, only to discover the abyss between her own privileged life and theirs. In ``Manikarnika,'' a computer graduate student on leave in India learns that her abusive father has committed suicide and finds an emotional anchor in an unpretentious guru. Wheeler, a one-time Buddhist nun in Burma who is now an O. Henry and Pushcart Award-winning author based in Massachusetts, does not spin gauzy New Agey scenarios but rather writes smart, tough-minded tales full of verve, wit, irony and a deft human touch. Her nervy women break out of self-made traps, whether it's a Kansas dishwasher who runs away from her domineering, older husband (``Judgment''), a transplanted New Yorker who is down-and-out in Miami's Little Havana (``Mr. Peanut''), or a neurotic dancer who can't get over her married ex-lover in Paris (``My Most Recent, Perfect Knight''). A highly original, delightful writer, Wheeler is on a par with Paul Theroux or Doris Lessing in her serendipitous explorations of cultural collisions. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-395-86032-8
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