Bummer: And Other Stories

Janice Shapiro, Counterpoint/Soft Skull, $14.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-59376-296-4
Shapiro's narrow debut collection starts off great but becomes unfortunately repetitive. The title story tracks a 21-year-old punk rocker carrying the child of a junkie she met at an underground rock show. They've decided to marry in Vegas, but when he gets cold feet, she finds comfort in the arms of a suave high-roller who, misunderstanding the situation, pays her for the pleasure. The story is solid and nicely balanced, but in subsequent stories, the narrators, all female, suffer from strikingly similar problems that boil down to being caught between good-girl hopes and bad-girl instincts. (For instance, in five of these 11 stories, the female narrator is mistaken for a prostitute or prostitutes herself.) The writing itself is generally strong (except in "Small," a tediously naughty take on Snow White) and has moments of beauty, as in the melancholic, restrained "Death and Disaster," where a grieving woman accidentally kills her neighbor's bird. Shapiro is clearly capable of writing about more than tragic punk princesses, and, hopefully, her next book will build on that promise. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 209 pages - 978-1-59376-386-2
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