These 15 short narratives search the soft folds of domestic activities to reveal the small significances that shape everyday lives. Mattison's quiet stories, many of which have appeared in the New Yorker, are invariably about relationships, most of these familial. While their tone is remarkably consistent, the range of characters is satisfyingly varied, from the restless, worried grandmother in ``Sleeping Giant'' to the fifth grade knight in the Medieval Fair produced by members of the Talented and Gifted Class in ``The Middle Ages.'' Aunts abound: Mag who raises puppies, Beth whose nephews teach her to ride a bike and Dr. Annie Katz's Aunt Ruthie who shares her worry about a lump in her breast. Annie also appears in the title story, as an impatient young college student who speaks out at a party her parents give and years later still bears their pain at her words. Set mostly in New Haven, Mattison's stories occasionally seem unfinished, yet they are subtly moving, tapping the deep and powerful undercurrents of ordinary life. (August)
Seven of these 15 stories originally appeared in The New Yorker . The characters in all of them are coming to terms: with a fatal error in judgment, with something too harshly said, with comfort withheld or action misinterpreted. Husbands and wives, parents and children, divorced women and their loversall exist in hurtful, loving, or resentful relationship to each other, at some point experiencing an epiphany that brings release. Thus in ``The Knitting'' a niece's suicide attempt deeply affects the relationship between aunt and mother. Throughout, we recognize our own parents, siblings, and lovers in Mattison's telling details and sharp insights. Her stories are about all of us, about how we cope, or fail to cope, with the people we love.Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.