Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Gathered in chronological order from 1974 to 1986, these early stories elucidate tension, suspicion, and the uneasy truces between married and divorced couples. Women are in flux and a general malaise settles over the urban dwellers or small town transplants, with notable departures. Though readers may be tempted to regard Beattie's characters as emblematic of their time, even as uniquely "American" in their self-involved, luxurious problems, they have weathered well and transcend easy classification. Beattie has mastered the tango between intelligent, sometimes perplexed individuals, allowing gradual, believable erosions to stand in place of high drama. "The Cinderella Waltz" draws an empathetic triangulation between the narrator, her ex-husband, and his current partner; "Home to Marie" offers a cruel take on unfulfilled expectations. Taken in full, these stories are taut evocations of separation and resignation, even as they reveal tenderness, and the best of them portray love and hatred not as intense polarities, but as tempered forces with fine gradations. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A generous gathering of 48 stories first published in the eponymous weekly often defined by Beattie's trademark understatements, ellipses andlet's admit itoccasionally clichd situations and plots.Not all her best stories (e.g., "Jacklighting," "Windy Day at the Reservoir," "Park City") share this lineage. But this big volume includes numerous seminal and influential portrayals of sensitive, self-absorbed young urban professionals succumbing to passivity and indifference, and eventually growing up and into a fuller engagement with the larger world's claims on their rudimentary attention spans. Fashionable angst and forced eccentricity sometimes blur focus and blunt force in stories that feel insubstantiala woman's resentment of her husband's supposed infidelities in "Downhill"; a defrocked fashion model's yearning to reconstruct her unhappy life in "Colorado"; and an unattractive woman's history of failed relationships in "Wolf Dreams." Yet when Beattie eludes the entrapments of quotidian clich, she commands a crisp, understated prose style and a talent for manipulating viewpoints into new ways of observing done-to-death conflicts. In "Snakes' Shoes," the breakup of a storybook marriage is felt most keenly by a sorrowful, silent brother-in-law. "Fancy Flights" looks at broken relationships through several variously sympathetic eyesincluding those of a family dog. Elsewhere, Beattie displays increasingly more complex understanding of the varieties of awakened regrets and aroused fears of the looming presences of age and enfeeblement. In "Janus," a gift from a former lover stimulates a complex meditation on the enduring, shaping power of the past; and "The Burning House" flawlessly dramatizes the moral awakening of a shallow woman doomed to understand that her closest friends are virtual strangers to her.Beattie (Walks with Men, 2010, etc.) sometimes stumbles, but her mordant and frequently comic depictions of ways in which we persevere, screw up and usually survive our own foolishness give her better stories genuine power, and make them well worth returning to.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.