A Bag of Stories

Edla Van Steen, Author, Edla Van Steen, Author, David George, Designed by Latin American Literary Review Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-935480-54-2
Homecoming and reunion are the dominant themes in this brief, uneven collection of short stories. After a long absence, an estranged daughter visits her mother's deathbed in time to hear her last gasp request: ``Cut.'' Albap. 61 files her dead mother's hideously long nails, grown in protest over the daughter's marriage. Another woman visits her dying father and her two aunts who share the same man; pk the menage a trois is the subject of a work of fiction by the niece--a betrayal of family privacy for which she will never be forgiven. The prodigal stories competently build tension and then offer a twist or a striking image but ultimately become predictable. The best story breaks the mold. Veigap. 27 , whose wife dies in childbirth, feeds his son, Bento,p. 29 with an artificial breast strapped to his chest. Yet later Veiga tries to sell his son, putting the boy in charge of negotiations. Perhaps Veiga resents his role as ``mother'' and the resulting emasculation. Here the Brazilian Van Steen ( Village of the Ghost Bells ) creates a fine puzzle to mull over. Other stories pk give deconstructive outlines that reveal the tricks of literature (character sketches from the author's notebook, for instance) but providepk little to replace lost verisimilitude. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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