But just how experimental these tales really are is another questionmost of them simply adopt traditional storytelling modes as a means for narrating slightly extraordinary events and experiences. Ruthann Robson, in "Choices," does use a tricky structure to tell three stories at the same time, all about degrees of suffering. Jeanne Winer's "The Trip We Took Last February," on the other hand, features some lesbian heroics as a visit to Mexico leads to adventure for a woman who fears taking risks. "Mainstreet," Linda Smukler's stunning, almost unpunctuated analysis of one butch dyke's affection for barbers, is the collection's standout, but "Close Calls," Wickie Stamps's piece about a dangerous flirtation between a "Birkenstock" lesbian and the imprisoned murderer she's drawn to, pushes the fictional envelop. In "Me and Cleo," Gwendolyn Bikis provides, with her portrait of New York City homegirls, the kind of verbal electricity the rest of the collection lacks. Zélie Pollon's "Mykonos," a brief, jagged story, takes on the issue of lesbian rape, while Kathryn Kingsbury, in "Wicked Stepsisters," delivers an updated retelling of the Cinderella legend from the perspective of a smitten stepsister. Desire and its consequences among nature buffs are nicely handled by Karen Cook in "Birding in Utah," and Rhomylly B. Forbes's "When You Wish Upon the Moon" actually casts an aspect of nature as a character. The married or heterosexual woman in love with another woman is a recurrent issue well presented in Emily Fox's "The House of My Child." "Wild Parrots Squalling Somewhere" is Sharon Lim-Hing's exotic take on love in the wilds, while nutty postmodern narration is covered by Anna Livia in "Lightning Dances Over the Prairie Like Lust at a Nightclub."
Not all hits, then, but still a strong new survey of the increasingly lively scene of lesbian short fiction.