Useful Gifts: Stories

Carole L. Glickfeld, Author University of Georgia Press $19.95 (209p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1041-1
In this collection of 11 interrelated stories, winner of this year's Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the world of Ruthie Zimmer, youngest child of Jewish deaf-mute parents, is captured wth aching authenticity. The favorite of her abused housewife-mother, as well as of her tyrannical, philandering father, Ruthie is an exuberant, rollerskating, prepubescent girl when we first meet her, enjoying the close-knit yet multiethnic neighborhood of the Inwood section of Manhattan. We follow her as she becomes an adept interpreter; signing for her parents, coping with her growing awareness of the problems that will eventually lead to their divorce, and to abiding sadness for her older brother and sister. The theme of the final story, longer and reflecting the loss of Ruthie's youthful insouciance and optimism, is one of survival, that of Ruthie and her octogenarian father, locked in their thorny relationship. The stories are redolent of a New York neighborhood that once was. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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