The World Before Mirrors

Joan Connor, Author . Univ. of Nebraska $14.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-8032-6455-7

Author of several collections of short stories (History Lessons ) and winner of a Pushcart Prize, Connor tries her hand at creative nonfiction with essays that are part memoir, part rumination on memory. Unlucky in love (twice divorced and, she notes, never loved by any man other than her father), Connor, who has taught fiction writing for over a decade at Ohio University, explains in the title essay that she had planned to spend all her money, then kill herself (a man from her past foils her). Other essays explore the impact of being unloved and living in a place she despises. Connor has an obvious passion for language evoked in her often poetical rhyming sentences and her use of arcane words; her vignettes are thick with adjectives and metaphor. She is less crafty with self-examination, however, and the repetitive nature of her commentary wears thin: the keening turns whiny and self-indulgent. It's easy to see how these tales could have been crafted into superb short stories, but as essays they reveal too much yet provide too little insightful context. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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