The Burning Glass: Stories

Helen Norris, Author Louisiana State University Press $21.95 (193p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1790-3
Like a ``burning glass,'' an archaic term for a magnifying glass, the nine stories in this appealing collection amplify and illuminate small moments, a task Norris ( The Christmas Wife ; Walk with the Sickle Moon ) performs with imagination and aplomb. Many of her tales feature women forever altered by chance encounters. In ``The Inglenook,'' a childless woman can't bring herself to accept the baby boy left in her care; in ``A Bee in Amber,'' an elderly traveler in Gdansk acts as a link between erstwhile lovers, only to be betrayed by her own innocence. And in ``Inside the Silence,'' an American woman's world and her burgeoning romance are blighted by her visit to the Majdanek death camp. The elegaic stories set in Poland, however, are marked by a strained, contrivedly formal style. Norris is at her admirable best in tales set in the American South: ``The Cracker Man,'' one of the finest stories here, captures the cadences of the region, and some passages in ``Raisin Faces,'' a tale about an old woman and her maid, have a lyric beauty that calls to mind the soaring prose of Virginia Woolf. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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