Why I Don’t Write: And Other Stories

Susan Minot. Knopf, $25 (176p) ISBN 978-0-525-65824-5
Minot (Thirty Girls) finds hints of violence, grief, and trauma in her characters’ interior lives in this precise, shimmering collection. In “Polepole,” American journalist Daisy regrets an affair with a married Englishman stationed in Kenya, where he slaps a boy across the face for vandalizing his Jeep. “Occupied” follows a woman walking past an Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan while remembering the attacks on 9/11 and reflecting on the breakup with the father of her eight-year-old son (“the place where he’d been was a ripped hole”). While the analogy to the World Trade Center’s “perpetual crater of construction” initially feels unbalanced, Minot brilliantly subverts Ivy’s self-absorption and gives her a rude awakening. Amid the conventional narratives are shorter, fragmentary stories. Of these, only the title story stands out, in which a constant, distracting stream of information passes through the narrator’s consciousness (“Your system must be overloaded. Or you have a virus”; “Fifty-three dead not including the shooter”). In “The Language of Cats and Dogs,” the collection’s strongest entry, a woman looks back on her professor’s sexual advances 40 years earlier in Boston, when she was 20, observing how the resulting fear and shame would forever alter her encounters with men. Minot’s sly, layered approach marks an impressive reimagining of 1980s minimalism. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/09/2020
Release date: 08/04/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-525-65825-2
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