Traps

Sondra S. Olsen, Author University of Iowa Press $11.5 (150p) ISBN 978-0-87745-346-8
Iowa Short Fiction Award winner Olsen voices a cool delicious irony in her 13 precisely crafted stories, set in Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods. Most of these engaging tales zero in on the embattled hearts of female protagonists who feel trapped, ambivalent and hungry for love. The self-mocking heroine of ``Who Could Love a Fat Man?'' accepts with mingled joy and contempt the passion of her plump, rumpled suitor, but finds him agonizingly desirable when he flaunts his literary talent and independence. In the trenchant ``44-28'' (the ages of a woman and her lover), law prof Lois yearns most for athlete Charles after she's thrown him out. Fondness breeds anxiety in ``The Butcher's Girl,'' in which a Brownie scout shies from a smotheringly earthy older girl. Olsen's fine ear for ethnic diction emerges in ``Harmony'': an emotionally starved widow savors the feuds and sex lives of ``these obnoxes,'' her neighbors. Women form chancy, painful ties to husbands/lovers who are selfish, feckless or elusive (e.g., ``Topazesic ,'' ``Working Nights as a Pickle'' and ``To Forget August''). In a sparkling tour de force, ``Freewriting,'' an English teacher's interior monologue in the unleashed style of the class assignment reveals her crush on her brightest student. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
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