Wilson's sixth story collection (after The World Still Melting) explores the ways in which men and women understand themselves in terms of the opposite sex and the fraught relationships they form with one another. The protagonist of "Petra," a woman who has raised her kids and sent them off into the world, exclaims to her clueless husband, "It kills me, what you expect from us." "Who's ‘us'?," he asks. "Women. Wives. Me.," she responds. This kind of emotional acuity flows throughout this collection, which raises many more questions about gender relations than it purports to resolve. In "Crooked," a Sarah Elliot's life is told through a lifetime of men and their crimes and betrayals. She describes herself as "untethered," as is the reader's understanding of her without the men of her past to provide context. These women seem never to recover from their shared time with their respective men, though the latter are also subject to the tension of their own ties to the opposite sex. In "Charm," a "lapsed Catholic" gives up God for the fairer sex: "That center—that still point around which, like a feral animal just beyond the firelight, Peter's concerns make a restless circling—is Woman." Though always stopping short of a verdict, Wilson's stories are pitch-perfect. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012 Release date: 02/01/2012 Genre: Fiction
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