cover image Vertigo


Joanna Walsh. Dorothy, a Publishing Project (SPD, dist.), $16 (120p) ISBN 978-0-9897607-5-1

Walsh’s penetrating short story collection evokes the titular feeling of dizziness. “I sense no anchorage,” the narrator says in the title story, “I will pitch forward, outward and upward.” It’s a statement true of both the writing and the women in it; all share a detached tone, as if speaking from the end of a tunnel, and what one character describes as “uncontrol,” lives lived in language more than action. This continuity of tone often makes it difficult to tell where one narrative drops off and another begins, as the stories are linked loosely together in flashes of syntax, which read like poetry and sometimes retreat into italicized, third-person meditations. In “Claustrophobia,” a woman’s relationship with food runs parallel to her relationship with her mother. In “New Year’s Day” a woman’s description of a party where “everyone knew how to keep some distance” is joined to her lover’s recounting, a moment later, of all the women he’s cheated on her with. “Online” is about a woman who discovers her husband has been online dating. Any navigational difficulties are worthwhile, as Walsh is an inventive, honest writer. In her world, objects may be closer and far more intricate than they appear; these stories offer a compelling pitch into the inner life. (Oct.)