cover image My Life as an Animal

My Life as an Animal

Laurie Stone. Northwestern Univ./Triquarterly, $17.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8101-3428-7

In this collection of stories, Stone (Starting with Serge) documents a woman's existence through her fragmented memories, observations, and musings as she searches for a sense of home. "Yard Sale" introduces Laurie when she's in her 60s. She's a writer who has recently moved from a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City to Scottsdale, Ariz., to be with her partner, Richard. Laurie spends her days at yard sales, considering how lives are attached to things and seeking connection with strangers. Subsequent stories span seemingly mundane moments%E2%80%94in "Aloes," Laurie pulls up plants in the front yard%E2%80%94and life-altering circumstances. "Andr%C3%A9" focuses on Laurie's childhood as she recalls being sexually abused by her family's psychoanalyst, and "Toby Dead" explores her fraught relationship with her mother and her feelings about her mother's death. Many of the stories jump in time and place without a clear destination, and this associative style is most successful in the stories that follow it to its fullest extent, as in "When People Fall, I Laugh," an enjoyable list of thoughts and confessions. The stories often read like personal essays, with a self-reflexive narrator named after the author and nods to real people. Laurie muses about fragmented writing: "Is there a more evocative style to capture fragmented existence?" Though a bit disjointed, the book features flashes of insight. (Oct.)