cover image Wild Desire

Wild Desire

Karen Brennan. University of Massachusetts Press, $25 (169pp) ISBN 978-0-87023-751-5

The main characters in this fine collection of short stories are independent women who struggle to make it on their own in a world that seems to exist outside of, if not without, men. A single mother labors to build a house for her family with her own hands. A young woman works at a fast-food restaurant to support herself and her deranged mother. In one of the most memorable pieces, a wife takes her children and flees an abusive husband, unsure of where she is going but certain of what she is leaving behind. When reality becomes too severe, these characters often escape into fantasy. A former actress reflects on her past and longs for an out-of-body experience in order to transcend her current condition. Indeed, transcendence and transformation lie at the heart of this anthology. Brennan's women are survivors, and they know that life will go on for them no matter what. Life will be what they make it. The title story is a strong, episodic tale (told in staccato paragraphs) about an unlikely group of misfits, all of whom are in love--but none with the person most in love with him or her. As Brennan ( Here on Earth ) says in the title to another story, ``C'est la vienot ital in text . '' It could serve as Brennan's credo. (Oct.)