cover image Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone: Stories

Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone: Stories

Marianne Wiggins. HarperCollins Publishers, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016139-2

Powerful, idiosyncratic voices commanding immediately felt emotions distinguish nearly all 13 stories in Wiggins's ( John Dollar ) second collection . Most moving are the tales told by old people--a man struggles to recall the words that will summon up his memory of a friend in ``A Cup of Jo''; a recent widower in ``Balloons 'n' Tunes'' frets angrily with a neighbor while trying to accommodate his wife's last wishes and accept her absence; a woman in ``Shibboletboo'' remembers the childhood cruelty that precipated the muteness of a recently deceased neighbor. Loss and its imminence permeate all these stories by Wiggins, who went into hiding when her then-husband, Salman Rushdie, was targeted for assassination by Islamic radicals. In ``Croeso I Gymru,'' the narrator named Marianne, ``on the lam in Wales'' with her husband, tries to assimilate the unfamiliar customs and language as a way to combat fear. and helplessness. Often unfettered by conventional spelling or diction, Wiggins's stories take us directly to the hearts of her characters, displaying an imposing talent. (June)