Susan Steinberg, Author . Fiction Collective Two $15.95 (204p) ISBN 978-1-57366-129-4

The dozen moody stories of Steinberg's second collection (after The End of Free Love ) buzz with a tangible erotic tension, sometimes laced with loneliness, sometimes urgent with desire. In the title tale, high school memories of bad-girl behavior color the narrator's fraught encounter with a man who stops to change her flat tire on a lonely, rain-slicked highway. The same slippery overlap of present and past energizes the spooky "The Last Guest," in which the narrator's meeting with an aloof red-haired man, the last to arrive at a house party, triggers memories of the seventh grade: both the physical charge of dry-humping with a "boy-looking girl" and the perversity with which the two friends stalked a redheaded boy—now grown into the mysterious man. Snapshots of a beach vacation form "Static," about a teenage girl who tests the power of her newfound sexuality ("always a cocktease, always wriggling") while she observes her father with his girlfriends, "every summer a new bleach-blonde with toothpick legs." Experimental but never opaque, Steinberg's stories seethe with real and imagined menace. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/20/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 205 pages - 978-1-57366-851-4
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