Mother Rocket: Stories

Rita Ciresi, Author University of Georgia Press $19.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1508-9
Ciresi's psychologically jarring, often darkly amusing debut volume contains seven tales, six of which have been previously published. The sinister ``The Silent Partner,'' which features an edgy Vietnam vet and his mawkish girlfriend, Baby, makes chilling use of the condescending tones some people adopt with children: ``The nice doctor gives Baby a teeny weeny little book that tells her all about her ugly, old disease.'' The title story, similarly outrageous and disturbing, tells how a spoiled, self-pitying dancer turns tragedy into self-promotion. Finally, Ciresi's heretofore unpublished ``Dutch Wife'' concerns a Miami surveyor who moves to wintry South Dakota to meet the ``pioneer woman'' of his fantasies and instead captivates his boss's obnoxious, ridiculously awkward 13-year-old daughter. These three stories establish the author's signature style, while the remaining four follow more common themes, including adolescence, aging, romantic love and the death of a parent. Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, this unsettling collection balances grimness with an off-kilter humor that fits well in the gothic tradition. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1993
Release date: 03/01/1993
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