cover image Inventions in a Grieving House

Inventions in a Grieving House

Patricia Grossman. Galileo Press, $10.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-913123-31-7

This tender, subtle first novella begins with its very adult, preadolescent narrator, Mona, imagining a device that would waft her to the bathroom each morning to ``do away with the necessity of taking the first step out of bed.'' She embellishes her world through inventions to mute the pain of her mother Cass's death in an accident, ``a treacherous bend in the maze of the universe's order.'' Mona's father, who loved his wife but felt inadequate beside her creativity, retreats into an unvarying routine of work and solitary hobbies. Her grandmother copes with Cass's death by holding an exhibit of her paintings and making the rounds of New York galleries to gain posthumous recognition for her oeuvre. In an attempt to dissipate the stultifying atmosphere of grief, Mona engineers a camping trip--even designing a special tent to hold them all in comfort. But, of course, no one really changes. Back home, Mona devises a game based on the central figure in her fantasies, ``the Decider, Who planned life's experiences.'' But even her invention, a metaphor for success and the continuation of life, cannot ``quell the longing'' for what has been irrevocably lost. (Mar.)