cover image Lust & Other Stories

Lust & Other Stories

Susan Minot. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16.45 (147pp) ISBN 978-0-395-48888-1

After Minot's promising debut with Monkeys , the short stories in this slender collection are disappointingly one-dimensional. In their unrevelatory and quickly monotonous exploration of the limited perspectives of passive young women yearning hopelessly for love and commitment from recalcitrant men, it is always women who love too much and self-sufficient men who act like heels. In the title story, an easy teenaged girl struggling to be ``cool'' discovers dully that boys flourish on sleeping around, but for a girl, ``with each boy it's as though a petal gets plucked.'' In other stories, great chasms of non-communication between supposed intimates are veiled by social chitchat as young women search anxiously for signs of their impending fall from favor. Time and again bruised women who have resolved to inure themselves to love succumb once more to its Circean beguilements. These hapless heroines observe their surroundings with a gimlet clarity distilled in Minot's pellucid prose, but their vision mirrors surfaces rather than revealing insight. Although cleanly crafted, immediate and endowed with lifelike dialogue, these stories are opaque shards of experience, unyielding, depressive and even trite. (June)