cover image Girls Will Be Girls: A Novella and Short Stories

Girls Will Be Girls: A Novella and Short Stories

Lesla Newman, Leslea Newman. Alyson Books, $13.95 (328pp) ISBN 978-1-55583-537-8

Newman explores diverse relationships in the lives of contemporary women, focusing primarily on lesbian perspectives. The 11 stories and one novella included in this collection share a chatty and informal prose quality and often heavy-handed humor. In tales alternately tragic and comic, lesbian life takes myriad forms. In one story a woman mourns the loss of the son she co-parented with her lover (the child's biological mother), when the two women sever their love relationship. In other, jauntier tales, a lesbian in her 50s muses on menopause, and enacts a symbolic and erotic celebration of the change of life; an older Jewish woman recounts her girlhood passion for a female classmate, and many lesbians exchange witty if clich d banter in bars, therapist's offices, bedrooms and backyards. The title novella, in which three characters involved in a love triangle offer their perspectives best demonstrates Newman's sensitive ear for inner dialogue. The stories featuring Jewish characters are peppered with Yiddish phrasing, and Newman offers a glossary of these terms at the end of the book. Weaker narratives rely too heavily on this cultural dialect or on prevailing social assumptions that lead to stereotyped characterizations: the teens are petulant and grouchy, mothers are overbearing, fathers are detached and uncaring, lesbians fall into butch/femme categories and parents of adult gay children are closed minded and vicious. With the amount of lesbian ""in"" references, the author writes for a specific audience, and although her work here doesn't break any new ground, gay readers may find Newman (Heather Has Two Mommies) especially refreshing as one of the few writers investigating topics such as lesbian parenting. Regional author tour. (Jan.)