cover image Moon Over Minneapolis

Moon Over Minneapolis

Fay Weldon. Penguin Books, $10 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-14-014542-7

``If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens,'' begins the first story in this collection by the author of The Cloning of Joanna May . However, while Weldon's off-center female protagonists often end up doing the unexpected, or at least the uncharacteristic, the author sets us up to expect this all along. In the aforementionedpk ``Subject to Diary,'' a compulsively organized businesswoman sits in the waiting room of an abortion clinic where she's been twice before, considering why she has never had children. ``Had she just been putting motherhood off to some more convenient time? If that had been the reason, she'd been wise enough. If she looked through past diaries it was clear there never had been, never would be, a convenient time.'' Her epiphany should be satisfying, but it's all too pat. This pattern is echoed in the title story and in ``The Search for Mother Christmas,'' each with an equally predictable, neat ending. Although Weldon writes with her usual humor and intelligence, these lighthearted stories also can be overly moralistic, and they're never terribly believable. Still, like bonbons laced with medicine, they go down quite easily and pleasantly if you can forget that they're supposed to be good for you. (Feb.)