cover image Crazy Water: Six Fictions

Crazy Water: Six Fictions

Lori Baker. New York University Press, $22 (206pp) ISBN 978-0-8147-1284-9

Crazy Water, winner of the 1995 Mamdouha S. Bobst Literary Award for Short Stories, is an eclectic mix of suburban fairy tales and stories of the dark side of love. In one story, a young son thinks he is a dog and only acts human after a dog trainer teaches him how to behave like a boy. In another story, a repressed girl learns what love is from a stranger in a tree. These stories demand a certain suspended disbelief; the reader must be willing to accept that a boy may in fact be a dog, for example. Many of the settings seem familiar and ordinary, but the author wittily twists events to tragicomic conclusions. This works because Baker is so successful in creating an apparently commonplace world. Reading the stories gives one the feeling of entering the Twilight Zone, not because the stories are fantastical, but precisely the opposite--at least until the setting and theme are hijacked by Baker's imagination, at which point something unexpected, and usually funny, happens. (May)