The Lowest Blue Flame Before Nothing: Short Stories

Lara Stapleton, Author Aunt Lute Books $10.95 (196p) ISBN 978-1-879960-54-1
Few debut story collections display the maturity, authenticity or versatility of Stapleton's, which focuses mainly (but not exclusively) on the lives of Filipino-Americans. Her characters move toward relationships either in hesitation or stark abandon, but always in believable ways. The title story relates a single afternoon in the lives of an immigrant family, an afternoon that anticipates the differing courses three sisters will take. Destiny and skin color are bound up in troublesome ways, both in that narrative and in ""Pure Impending Glory,"" which follows a young professor, another child of immigrants, as she tries uneasily to fit in at her inhospitable small college and find a man to complement her: ""Her preference for brown superseded her preference for intellect. Such were the circumstances that she often had to choose between them."" Several tales are set in a nightmarish, alienating New York City, but Stapleton places others equally comfortably in the Philippines or in an unnamed Midwestern town. Likewise, she moves deftly between immigrant and American-born communities. This is an impressive collection, and each of the 12 short fictions is sure-footed enough to stand on its own. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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