You Can Sleep While I Drive: Stories

Liza Wieland, Author Southern Methodist University Press $19.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-87074-441-9
Fatherless grown children long to know the men who've abandoned them, while other adults become their parents' caretakers, in the complex scenes of guilt, responsibility, empathy and chance created by these nine complex and luminous stories. Haunted by a nightmare in which his dead father exhorts him to protect his capricious mother, Mason, the dutiful son of ""Cirque du Soleil,"" frets that her shipboard romance with a young opportunist may lead to an ill-considered marriage. In the end it's Mason, dumped by his lady love, who envies his mother's happiness. Em Stanley of ""Salt Lake"" drives a UPS truck and cares for her dying mother, Mary Anne, who has told her daughter that Em's father left before she was born. When Em realizes that the man she knows as Uncle Ted is her father, she regrets Mary Anne's duplicity but chooses to empathize rather than castigate: ""She listened for her mother's voice, telling her about the great, loveless world, and how she would move through it. How the world buoyed you up and that was a kind of affection, how chance was like love, out there waiting for your arrival, waiting for you to stop, take in the long view and say, this is the place."" ""Irradiation"" charts the near relations of grief, forgiveness and revenge as Alice struggles with her anger at Christine, a teenage cancer patient whose carelessness caused the boat accident that killed Alice's husband. Though Wieland's prose apparently rambles, passages that look needlessly digressive yield, later in a story, deep views of characters' souls. Author of the well-received novel The Names of the Lost and the story collection Discovering America, Wieland remains a confident artist who prefers quiet resolutions. A lesser talent might have used the freak September snowstorm in ""The Loop, the Snow, Their Daughters, the Rain"" to create a tear-jerking disaster; instead, the narrative winds down gently as the protagonist heads safely for home. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
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