cover image Where She Went: Stories

Where She Went: Stories

Kate Walbert. Sarabande Books, $19.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-889330-15-0

Moving through a series of slow-motion vignettes, Walbert's meticulous, unshakably sad collection of linked stories provides glimpses into the lives of two women: one condemned by her husband's career to wander from one middle-sized American city to another; the other her daughter, who takes a series of European vacations in the doomed hope of living up to her mother's dreams of fun and romance. Trapped in a conventional, 36-year-old marriage, ""hollowed out"" by depression after the cradle death of her second child, passionate Marion Clark imagines a world of glamour through the postcards and letters of her first and only surviving child. The distinction between traveling for pleasure and traveling by necessity is analogous to other distinctions between the lives and opportunities of mother and daughter. As Marion once did, 30-something Rebecca goes to New York in search of love and success, but without the husband-hunting sense of purpose that guided so many working women of the 1950s. Aimless and melancholy compared to her mother, Rebecca glides from one lonely, lazy affair to another before drifting into marriage (she asks for a divorce on her honeymoon), wishing all the while that she could live up to her mother's expectations of the ""adventurous"" life. Sometimes these enigmatic stories are precious and overworked, straining toward a hush of despair. At their more frequent best, however, they resonate with surprising pathos, and these moments establish Walbert as one of the season's most promising, idiosyncratic new writers. (Aug.)