cover image A Glimpse of Scarlet and Other Stories

A Glimpse of Scarlet and Other Stories

Roxana Robinson. Edward Burlingame Books, $18.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016331-0

The privileged, polished world of the WASP upper-middle class serves as the backdrop for Robinson's ( Summer Light ) finely crafted and subtly powerful short stories. Behind the refined facade of her protagonists' lives, there exist intricate family machinery and delicate emotions. Ranging in their characterizations from a suburban mother who worries about stifling her daughter to a publishing executive who assesses the damage of a disorienting affair, to a man who must finally confront the pain of his distant father's second marriage, many of the 12 stories here are about dysfunctional families, with problems that are far from rare in American society. Concentrating on insignificant, everyday moments, Robinson exposes the gossamer threads that link families in a world of casual plenty. She shows a special understanding of the suffering and, sometimes, joy that goes into generating a new family dynamic after divorce. Many characters face personal crisis when a key relationship--filial, marital or within a friendship--enters a state of flux; and they experience revelation. Robinson's prose is as lucid and assured as her characters' socially correct demeanors, but its undercurrent of emotional urgency is what engages the reader. She is clearly a writer to be watched. (June)