cover image She Was Like That

She Was Like That

Kate Walbert. Scribner, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9942-1

This collection of 12 stories from Walbert (His Favorites) creates a taut, clever, and disturbing portrait of motherhood. Fathers, living with the family or apart, do not share their wives’ disquiet. In “M&M World,” a mother takes her daughters to the crowded candy-themed Times Square megastore and panics when she loses sight of her youngest girl. “Playdate” is also set in New York City. Two six-year-olds play together while their mothers chat, until one mother reads the other’s list of things that make her nervous: crowds, school, shadows, playdates. “Conversation” and “The Blue Hour” feature women that feel emotionally stranded. “Do Something,” “Slow the Heart,” and “A Mother Is Someone Who Tells Jokes” show women whose children are dead, ill, or impaired. Memories of deceased mothers haunt the protagonists of “Paris, 1994” and “To Do.” In “Radical Feminists,” a mother of two runs into her long-hated sexist former boss. Set from the 1950s to the present, Walbert portrays mothers beset by worry, fear, and dissatisfaction as they try to accentuate joy in their children’s lives. This is a piercing, intimate, and exquisite collection. [em]Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (Oct.) [/em]