cover image Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories

Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories

Jincy Willett. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (248pp) ISBN 978-0-312-00614-3

Willett is a writer of awesome potential. She's a risk-taker, and even when the stories in this first collection do not quite succeed, they're powerful, quirky, always interesting. In perhaps the most characteristic and best of these 13 tales, ""Julie in the Funhouse,'' the narrator returns home to attend to ``family business.'' With remarkable delicacy, he reveals that his sister and brother-in-law have been murdered by their two oldest children, who are remorseless. In ``The Haunting of the Lingards,'' a couple's perfect marriage falls apart when the wife sees a ghost; in ``Under the Bed,'' a woman comes to terms with her rape precisely by not coming to terms with it. Willett's stories are refreshingly about ideas, their smooth narration infused with little jolts of startling insight, reflecting the tough, poignant perceptions that lie at their core. (August 19)