Within the Lighted City

Lisa Lenzo, Author University of Iowa Press $20 (122p) ISBN 978-0-87745-611-7
Seven of the nine stories in this first collection--awarded the 1997 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, judged by Ann Beattie--chronicle the lives of the Zitos, a white family forced by escalating racial violence to leave their Detroit suburb in the late 1960s. Related by Annie Zito and her father, Ralph, a psychiatrist, the entries tell of troubles that beset the family even after they leave Highland Park. Annie's brother Dan loses both legs in an accident during his summer job (""First Day""), and his calm convalescence puts an unexpected strain on the rest of his family. Annie has a daughter who dies the day she is born (""Sophie's Shirt""), then another daughter (""Waiting""); then gets divorced; then loses her lover (""Within the Lighted City""). After years of halfway houses, her brother Arthur celebrates the end of his addiction by burning an elaborately crafted miniature coffin housing a screaming clay figure (""The End of the Crackhead""). In these and the remaining two stories (also concerned with the fate of Detroit), everyone suffers an undeserved loss, rails against unfair restraints and faces a world that at every moment threatens to crumble around them. Lenzo balances dread with determination, however, endowing her characters and her prose with offbeat grace and resolve. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 188 pages - 978-1-79052-475-4
Open Ebook - 110 pages - 978-1-58729-134-0
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