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This installment: Wacky linked stories, a beach read to warm you up, and more short stories full of jaunty courage. 


    The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents

Linked stories with Sylvie as the thread. She's the list maker who tries to keep track of myriad folks she's "traded spit with." She's groping for meaning as well as good times, careening through frustrating friendships, relationships, living situations and jobs in New York City. There's a long weird platonic affair with her sports doctor, and a roommate with cancer and attitude (her wig stand has its own persona and voice). The book is full of wacky, wiggy details like Sylvie's tattoo: the call numbers for Clarissa (she studied literature at Oxford). Funny, poignant, fresh.

   Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer

Talk about a beach read...or what I call a "bon-bon book" no matter what the season. Thayer really has it down and does it with grace: three unrelated main characters in a picturesque place, wresting with discontent. One's stuck with domesticity, missing her career as a scientist. Another is an artist on the cusp of new discovery. The third comes to help her mother and ends up discovering her true passion, which is not teaching 3rd grade in Austin. There's a beautiful lake in the Berkshires, and a slippery seductive fellow. A little like a soap opera, firmly planted in prosperity, but lots of domestic detail and lively interaction. So lose yourself in other's lives, relax and enjoy...

   Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber

Short stories, many featuring impulsive Ruby, a sexy single mom, and her daughter Nora. Gradually they rise from funky surroundings and patched together circumstances to a pretty solid life but then Nora lurches into her tempestuous adolescence. Serber's very graphic in describing ponderous pregnant states and post-partum mires. I got so caught up with this little family that when the last story concerned a completely different batch of folks I felt temporarily abandoned. Which shows that despite their dysfunction (or perhaps because of it), I wanted to keep hanging out with them for their jaunty courage, and propensity for truth-telling.

Back next Monday.

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