How She Knows What She Knows about Yo-Yos: Stories

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, Author Sarabande Books $21.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-889330-36-5
Taylor-Hall (Come and Go, Molly Snow), who has been published in Best American Short Stories and won a PEN/Syndicated Fiction Award, displays a cool, intuitive confidence in these five long and shapely stories. In all of them, the narrators are women; on the verge of adulthood, entering old age, or somewhere in between, they know what they want from the world and are grappling with how to get it. Undella, the 21-year-old plainspoken Ellenberg, Ky., woman in the magnificent title story, falls for the fast-talking and slippery yo-yo salesman passing through her town. Desperate for experience beyond her overprotective, gossipy Baptist community, she loses herself in fantasy about a future with the drifter and enjoys a one-night affair, hoping against hope that he'll stay. Heartbroken but not surprised when he disappears with her single most beloved possession, Undella pushes past her disappointment and finds a poignant, liberating perspective on the situation. Pitch-perfect dialogue makes Undella and her transitory lover unforgettable. In ""Banana Boats,"" an elderly woman observes her husband's failing health with wry ambivalence: her cold knowledge of his decades of infidelity have embittered her. Watching his physical decline, she says, ""Oh, this one knows how to flutter his eyelids; he knows how to moan."" The other stories are less intimately narrated, so their power is diffused. The last, ""The World's Room,"" concerns the fragile relationship between a young American woman and her British artist boyfriend, taking a stab at love in rural, southern England. Whether she's happy in her exile and whether the restless artist can thrive outside bustling London are questions Taylor-Hall draws out with novelesque suspense. Suffused with subtlety and feeling, these stories explore multiple, wide-ranging zones of emotional territory, and amid Taylor-Hall's vivid settings, her complex, endearing characters captivate. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
Paperback - 225 pages - 978-1-889330-37-2
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-936747-11-5
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