cover image Getting Over Tom

Getting Over Tom

Abigail Thomas. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $16.95 (204pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-024-2

The daughter of the late Lewis Thomas (who has previously written for children) imbues this deft debut collection with grace and a refreshing lack of pretension. The 12 stories are told from the points of view of big-hearted, long-suffering women of all ages, from the prepubescent Stephanie in ``Sisters,'' whose mother is once again ``disabled by love,'' to the menopausal Louise of ``A Tooth for Every Child,'' who is ``of an age now when most of the men in her life are former lovers who fly in from nowhere for a couple of days every six years or so.'' The time period--mid-1950s to the present--evokes female mores from a more inhibited pre-pill era to today's looser exchanges between the sexes. Thomas skillfully captures a woman's sense of emotional vulnerability and personal responsibility for everything, whether it's a man's hurt feelings or a neighborhood child's handicap. Though her women hoist themselves on their own petards of longing for ideal male companionship, they remain intelligent, self-aware, sometimes self-deprecating and capable of perceiving the humor in their situations. Eliciting both chuckles and moans of recognition, the best selections here display an original talent. (May)