The Fifth Woman

Nona Caspers. Sarabande, $15.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-946448-17-0
Casper’s spare and lovely linked collection (following Heavier than Air) is told in brief vignettes, at the center of which is the death of Michelle, the first lover of the unnamed narrator. In the opening story, “Ants,” the narrator, still torn by her loss, sweetly refers to Larissa, her new partner, but recalls her last morning with Michelle, when they counted the ants that suddenly invaded their kitchen. In the final story, “The Startup,” the narrator and Larissa are on the verge of a momentous change in their lives. Throughout, Caspers lays bare the heart and soul of the narrator as she tries to carry on with day-to-day life while being shadowed by heartache. Without Michelle, the narrator’s life is reflected through a prism of grief—whether it’s the shadow in the shape of a companionable dog that appears in her apartment in “The Dog” or her need to change the sad ending of a short story she reads into one that is triumphant and happy in “The Horse.” In the title story, which takes place during an all-day party outside her apartment, the narrator watches a group of four partygoers and imagines a space opening up among them for a woman who never materializes. This gem of a collection is a transcendent portrayal of bereavement, showing how death elevates the mundane and affects everything humans do, see, and think. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Ebook - 978-1-946448-18-7
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