This Is a Voice from Your Past: New and Selected Stories

Overview

"Every woman gets a call like this sooner or later. The phone rings, a man says: 'This is a voice from your past.'" The opening of the compelling title story of Merrill Joan Gerber's collection sets the tone for each of the thirteen remarkable pieces therein, two of them previously unpublished. Set mostly in Southern California—in seemingly peaceful, suburban households—Gerber's stories expose the raw, sometimes murderous impulses normally hidden beneath the facade of middle-class life. From the vulnerable women of "I Don't Believe This" and
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Overview

"Every woman gets a call like this sooner or later. The phone rings, a man says: 'This is a voice from your past.'" The opening of the compelling title story of Merrill Joan Gerber's collection sets the tone for each of the thirteen remarkable pieces therein, two of them previously unpublished. Set mostly in Southern California—in seemingly peaceful, suburban households—Gerber's stories expose the raw, sometimes murderous impulses normally hidden beneath the facade of middle-class life. From the vulnerable women of "I Don't Believe This" and "Night Stalker" to the increasingly paranoid housewife of "Dogs Bark"; from the ferocious infighting of family life in "We Know That Your Hearts Are Heavy," "A Daughter of My Own," and "Latitude" to the sudden triumphs of unexpected revelation in "Approval" and "See Bonnie & Clyde Death Car," Merrill Joan Gerber's powerful collection confirms her place among the ranks of America's best fiction writers.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
This sixth collection from Gerber, with seven novels (Anna in the Afterlife, 2002, etc.) and four books of memoir to her credit, offers a baker's dozen about women in peril, love, and grief. In the title story, a woman at first welcomes getting a call from a former writing program classmate-until he turns out to be on the skids: the piece builds in suspense, ending with the narrator looking over her shoulder, not answering her phone, fearful of this wreck of a man. "I Don't Believe This" continues a theme of terror at what a man might do-in this case detailing graphically the danger posed by a rejected husband whose wife has gone with their sons to a shelter for battered women. "Tell Me Your Secret" deals once again with a young woman in a writing program, this time preparing for an illicit overnight at a professor's party. News of her grandmother's death forces her to look at every choice she makes in a new light. As a once formidable mother-in-law, mellowed with age, pleads with her daughter-in-law to visit more often, the younger woman realizes ("Latitude") that power in the relationship has shifted to her, while a confident young wife is undone by the sight of her uncle's body at his funeral ("We Know That Your Hearts Are Heavy"), and "A Daughter of My Own" captures the tension when a mother comes, unbidden, to "help out" with a firstborn baby. Less successful is "My Suicides," a sketchy piece that reprises the suicide of the abusive husband from "I Don't Believe This" and ends with a "Survivors-of-Suicide" meeting. "Dogs Bark," finally, is a nightmarish and ominous tale of how the troubles between neighbors can erupt into violence. Gerber writes powerfully about the twists of familylife in stories crisply told: heartfelt dispatches from our ambiguous time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865381131
  • Publisher: Ontario Review Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

This is a voice from your past 1
I don't believe this 17
Tell me your secret 31
Night stalker 45
The Cleopatra birds 58
We know that your hearts are heavy 69
A daughter of my own 97
Latitude 109
Approval 120
Honeymoon 133
See Bonnie & Clyde death car 151
My suicides 166
Dogs bark 182
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