cover image Rope Dancer

Rope Dancer

M. J. Fitzgerald. Random House (NY), $15.95 (158pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55921-6

In a tightly controlled story, ""Bachelor Life,'' an unremitting account of the ``monotonous, metronome movements'' of one man's life, the protagonist completes his transformation from part-time transvestite, still making futile attempts to bed a sluttish woman, to confirmed cruiser. One of 15 in this first collection, the story is relentless and unsettling, though when the bachelor collapses in tragic despair beneath a painting of the Trinity, there is a sense of over-staging. So is it too with ``Communions,'' an ambiguous yet engrossing tale of the spiritual and emotional crises and turbulences attending a Catholic childhood and young womanhood. But the narrative's memorable image of the woman squatting like some animal, hoping to abort the bitter seed of rape by stuffing herself with thick chocolate bars, is somewhat marred by a hokey concluding vision. Visions, dreams, fantasies, delusions pervade the storiesthe dark, repressed interior life, vividly, at times hauntingly, represented by this gifted writer. The title of the collection is derived from a Man Ray painting, Rope-Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadowsa clue to the author's fictional manner and mind. (March 3)