A bold, dazzling debut collection about girls and women in a world where sexuality and self-delusion collide.
In these stories, a teacher obsesses over a student who comes to class with scratch marks on his face; a Catholic girl graduating high school finds a warped kind of redemption in her school's contrived class rituals; and a woman looking to rent a house is sucked into a strangely inappropriate correspondence with one of the landlords. These are just a few of the powerful plotlines in Suzanne Rivecca's gorgeously wrought collection. From a college student who adopts a false hippie persona to find love, to a young memoirist who bumps up against a sexually obsessed fan, the characters in these fiercely original tales grapple with what it means to be honest with themselves and the world.
These stories explode "with piercing insight . . . illuminating the dangerous dance between victims and saviors. [They] deliver us to the edge of grief, that precarious place where the moral compass spins--where codes of love and law and religion fail. Mercy here depends on a tiger's sublime grace, our capacity to resist deeper harm, and the right of every broken being to remain silent" (Melanie Rae Thon).
The female protagonists in Rivecca's debut collection have a lot in common, so much so that they at times feel like the same person, despite (slight) variations in context. They are a mostly Midwestern bunch, sassy, bookish, and Catholic (or lapsed Catholic), but it's their ambivalent relationships to victimhood that provide the collection with its real material: some refuse to be pitied, while others dabble in self-victimization for selfish purposes. In the title story, Emma bids farewell to her Sacred Heart classmates, including the popular Claire, who has spent most of their "friendship" trying to publicly humiliate Emma. In "Yours Will Do Nicely," 21-year-old Katrina tries to maintain a relationship with a one-night stand by writing a fanciful letter to the boy she's effortlessly enchanted. "Very Special Victims" introduces Kath, who can't seem to convince those around her that her existence shouldn't be defined by the fact that she was molested as a child. Rivecca's a competent writer and obviously adept at mining the experiences of a certain kind of character, but the stories' provocations aren't delivered upon; instead, they feel repetitive and self-satisfied. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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W. W. Norton & Company
June 30, 2010
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