Ghost Stories

E. M. Broner, Author Global City Press $12 (200p) ISBN 978-0-9641292-1-4
Readers who subscribe to encounter groups or self-help journals might find Broner's (A Weave of Women) writing interesting; those who enjoy good fiction will be disappointed. The primary theme of the collection is the relationship between a mother and daughter as the mother ages, dies and becomes a ghost-potentially a great idea but one only lazily explored here. Vacillating between whiny and self-stroking, the dialogue between the old-world Jewish mother and her more modern American daughter is chronically prosaic. ``I suddenly want to know everything she remembers. `Take this down,' says Mama. I pick up a notebook I always carry...I crank her up. She remembers stuffed cabbage.'' The mother's complaints, advice, memories, recipes hold great significance for the daughter, but they're lost on the reader. The lack of invention in their telling, the amateurish, step-by-step recording of mundane details, render her litany more burdensome than enlightening. What could be a meaningful exchange between the two instead comes across as a sheltered child marveling too readily at its parent's past hardships. As an aside to the central maternal theme, ``Cousins,'' depicts the incestuous love between the daughter and her cousin Benny. These tales nudge their way closer to a compelling narrative and get away from rhetorical personal growth masquerading as fiction. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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