cover image Discovering Eve: Short Stories

Discovering Eve: Short Stories

Jane Candia Coleman. Swallow Press, $28.95 (122pp) ISBN 978-0-8040-0964-5

The Garden of Eden isn't lost to us forever; women and men are just too caught up in making compromises and trading true feeling for security to see our way back in. That's the theme of this lyrical, if overly self-conscious, collection of 12 stories. Using the powers of nature and a little intuitive wisdom, Coleman tells us, it is humanly possible to reclaim lost innocence. In ``Windfall'' a woman escapes the city and a stifling relationship to find a simpler happiness (and a better man) on the farm of her birth; in ``Glasnost'' a crabbed English professor recovers the exuberance of youth on a wintry Brighton Beach boardwalk. Yet realization doesn't guarantee salvation in these tales--many of Coleman's characters never figure out how to reverse their falls from grace. In ``The Age of Insects'' a young mother comes across a beached whale and only feels helpless in the face of people's petty responses: ``She remembered reading somewhere that we live in the age of insects, outnumbered. . . .'' Coleman is at her best when describing the sensuality of nature, from ponds ``where goldfish quivered like streaks of sunlight'' to fields of poppies ``that fluttered and swayed and nodded their crimson heads as we passed.'' Such poetic touches redeem this collection from the limbo of introspection where its characters want to linger. (June)