cover image Women in the Trees Pa

Women in the Trees Pa

. Beacon Press (MA), $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-6777-2

In her introduction, Koppelman (""Two Friends"" and Other Nineteenth-Century Lesbian Stories) explains the source of her personal commitment to this issue: eight and a half years of abuse. She also successfully unites 30 thematically and chronologically diverse pieces to show that domestic violence has a long pedigree. But these stories aren't just history; they are also most definitely literature. In the first chapter of Caroline Kirkland's 1839 epistolary novel, A New Home, Who'll Follow, the narrator devotes a single, powerful sentence to a dangerous innkeeper in recounting her adventures in the Michigan wilderness. Her very offhandedness is chilling. In Susan Glaspell's ""A Jury of Her Peers,"" a woman's husband has been murdered--she claims that someone slipped a rope around his neck and strangled him while she was asleep in bed beside him--and while the sheriff is puzzled, her sister housewives are not. Jean Wheeler Smith's ""That She Would Dance No More"" is the chilling tale of a man who seduces a young woman to dampen her spirits. Andrea Dworkin's ""bertha schneiders existential edge"" is a jittery recollection of indignities (""anyway, finally 2 events led to my final departure. first I went shopping and he tried to run me over with his car""). Sandra Cisneros's ""Minerva Writes Poems"" and ""Linoleum Roses"" are both brief and powerful. Each selection is introduced by a passage or poem about abuse that connects to the story at hand. This is a first-rate collection that illustrates how universal and enduring such violence is. (Aug.)