cover image Women and Ghosts

Women and Ghosts

Alison Lurie. Nan A. Talese, $21 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-385-47392-7

From Pulitzer-winning novelist Lurie (Foreign Affairs) comes this first-and disappointing-short-story collection with a supernatural slant. Humorously spooky at best, and breaking no new ground, the nine stories here feature women who are disturbed during their daily routines by the appearance of Disney-like entities from another realm. A dead boyfriend returns to prevent his ex from dating other men; a wicked highboy doesn't want its drawers opened; a Wordsworth scholar turns into a sheep; a woman on a diet is plagued by obese ghosts who lure her into bakeries. Lurie's storytelling remains smooth throughout; what's missing is any sense of risk-taking or envelope-pushing. The endings are consistently dull and often gimmicky, and many of the stories are formulaic. An exception to the routine entries is ``The Pool People,'' whose premise about a rich woman's swimming pool haunted by workmen has a strong social tension ticking away behind it. Overall, though, this is wraithlike entertainment from an author who usually delivers far more substantive work. Paperback rights to Avon; author tour. (Sept.)