Absent Without Leave and Other Stories: And Other Stories

Jessica Treadway, Author Delphinium Books $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-79213-8
This collection of 10 stories, Treadway's first book-length publication, opens with the aftermath of a murder-suicide and concludes with a belated breakdown caused by childhood sexual abuse. Like most of the book's characters, the abusive father in the final tale (``Something Falls'') is pitiably appealing, and he describes them all when he says that ``what's in traction is my daughter's soul.'' Alcoholics who drive away loving spouses, parents who fail adored children, an unwed teenage alcoholic mother who just needs a hug--with a couple of exceptions, these well-meaning people barely survive life's complexities. The stories focus on their current distress, not what led up to it. In the title work, for instance, Francie (whose wedding is featured in an earlier tale) follows in her alcoholic father's stumbling footsteps, but no explanation for her behavior is given. Favoring first-person narratives, Treadway conveys many different voices, both male and female, deftly projecting humor as well as pathos. Her skillful ventriloquism, however, ultimately proves limiting: like Francie, too many of these unreflective characters slip away from us, absent without leave. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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