cover image Love Stories for the Rest of Us

Love Stories for the Rest of Us

. Pushcart Press, $29.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-916366-90-2

Exploring love relationships in diverse contexts and permutations, the 25 stories in this adventurous anthology expand the definition of amatory fiction. In Mona Simpson's stunning ``Lawns,'' a kleptomaniacal college student endures a visit from her incestuous father and comes to new terms with both his criminal behavior and her own. Joyce Carol Oates, in ``The Hair,'' tartly describes a middle-aged couple whose marriage gets twisted as they become involved with, and begin to emulate, a snobbish, more successful couple. Culled from Pushcart Prize annuals of the past eight years, the collection, a follow-up to 1987's Love Stories for the Time Being , investigates comic, tragic, unrequited, obsessive, heterosexual and gay love, with divorce, teenage pregnancy, abuse and drug addiction as complicating factors. Andre Dubus's ``Rose,'' for instance, is a powerful and dark tale of a woman's murderous revenge on her physically abusive husband, a construction worker. Ethnicity is a recurrent concern as well. Clarence Major's ``My Mother and Mitch,'' set in 1951 Chicago, tells of a divorced ``colored lady'' who conducts an extended telephone relationship with a white man whose first call to her was a wrong number. And Leonard Michaels's intensely imaginative ``Tell Me Everything'' portrays a Chinese-American painter who embarks on a self-destructive affair with a married and womanizing Sorbonne professor, author of a bestselling novel about 19th-century China. In all, an outstanding collection. (June)