Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyAll but one of the 12 stories in this debut collection have appeared previously, most in literary magazines such as Boulevard and Virginia Quarterly Review . With settings that range from upscale apartments and seamy bars in New York to muddy shanties and dusty villages in Mexico, and with narrators as diverse as an old man who fought for Zapata and the girlfriend of a Mob chauffeur, the stories are consistent in their sociopolitical insights and their uncompromising emotional power. The newcomer is ``What Duck?'' a delightful short-short about a fatherless only child among family members who share memories of radio and TV jingles: ``Each object was capable of bringing back a classic slogan and a few bars of song. Everything was hot with meaning.'' Elsewhere, Lefer's focus on tough yet powerless women connects themes as seemingly varied as the intellectual awakening power of Marxism (``Little Virgins'') and the intentional cruelty of parents who withhold support from their needy children (``The Circles I Move In''). Only ``Huggers'' grates, with its unpalatable--and overloaded--cast of characters and shifting points of view. Overall, these stories, which include two PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize winners, add up to a cohesive unit of vivid sensual imagery and visceral impact. (Sept.)
Library JournalIn eight of the 12 stories in Lefer's first collection, her North Americans are illusioned, delusive, or disillusioned. Mostly narcissists unable to communicate with those close to them, they float from circle to circle without real, meaningful interaction. As true as the stories ring and as evocative as the writing may be, many readers may find the characters soulless and unappetizing, especially since the author herself seems contemptuous of them. Thus, the narrator of the title story, a young, underachieving secretary dating a married photocopier in the same office, claims that "What I like best about baseball are the player trades." In "Wonderful Baby," a story so gruesome it could be true, a group of women stand around a baby boy, burning him with lit cigarette ends, as an abused girl dances nearby. In contrast, the four stories set in Mexico demonstrate profound interest in the complexity of the characters' individual lives and the civilization in which they live, and, when Lefer brings together the two nationalities in "Little Virgins," she creates intriguing and subtle fiction. For general collections.-Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York
Theresa DucatoIn Lefer's comic stories, her characters blunder around, trying to break through the too-tight borders of their own lives. In "Sophisticated Ladies," a young woman roams the multiracial streets of Manhattan, longing for summer when the windows are open and the stoop is alive with six-packs and radios. She could slow-dance on roller blades and pretend to converse with Linda Ronstadt--but she wonders if this is enough to live for. Friendship is the theme in "Huggers," where black women support each other after rapes and muggings, staying vigil through the long, fitful nights. In Mexico, "La Chata" is a young Indian girl who speaks Zabotec but curses in Spanish. "My daughter knows how to work," her father says. "My son only knows how to get married." However these characters may differ, they are collectively gutsy, stylish, and tough and often bigger than life.
- Steerforth Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
- Product dimensions:
- 5.84(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.82(d)
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The Circles I Move in based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
A stunning collection of stories, sometimes humorous, sometimes gently grim, sometimes starkly sobering, but always well crafted and well seen. Diane Lefer takes us everywhere, from slum tenements glittering with despair and Mexican villages smoldering with hope, to sparkling glib talk at the dining tables of the newly enlightened and flashing costumes of teenage strippers staging a performance of 'Gypsy.' Yet in each story we see the same thing, the light that shines through our desires and illusions. And we end up in the same place, a world that props up the worst of our good intentions and tries to dest