Tourist Season: Stories [NOOK Book]

Overview

In Tourist Season, award-winning author Enid Shomer offers ten brilliant, richly detailed unforgettable stories of resilient women, aged seventeen to seventy, each at a pivotal point in her life. Their journeys cross distances of place and mind: A middle-aged Floridian who learns that she is the reincarnation of a Buddhist saint takes daring steps on her path to enlightenment; a long-buried secret forces one woman to leave the daughter she deeply loves; a Radcliffe student faces shocking family truths and taboos ...
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Tourist Season: Stories

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Overview

In Tourist Season, award-winning author Enid Shomer offers ten brilliant, richly detailed unforgettable stories of resilient women, aged seventeen to seventy, each at a pivotal point in her life. Their journeys cross distances of place and mind: A middle-aged Floridian who learns that she is the reincarnation of a Buddhist saint takes daring steps on her path to enlightenment; a long-buried secret forces one woman to leave the daughter she deeply loves; a Radcliffe student faces shocking family truths and taboos during the summer of 1966; an unexpected kinship forms between two women who land in a county jail after an excursion to Las Vegas. These travelers wander through shifting emotional landscapes of love, sex, and relationships, and often miss the destinations they’d wished to reach–of insight, connection, and understanding. Whether journeying to new geographical locales or exploring uncharted personal terrain, Tourist Season offers a provocative, engaging, and often humorous road map of the heart and soul.

“[When reading Enid Shomer’s stories,] the thing one quickly senses is the will and the voice, someone saying, in effect, ‘Relax, be comfortable, I’m going to take good care of you.’ These are very fine stories.”
–James Salter, in Imaginary Men

“Beautifully made, surprising and inevitable, wonderfully inventive and deeply true, these stories are full of small, irreverent, straight-faced miracles. They will lead women of all ages to suspect that the best may be yet to come.”
––Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Sight Hound


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The women in Shomer's ten stories inhabit different realms of time and place, and range in age from late girlhood to late in life. However, they share a determination to face squarely their life changes and challenges. Far from succumbing to powerlessness, they take chances, remove themselves from their comfort zones, and become tourists, looking from the outside in -- at themselves.

In "The Other Mother," Sheila, a middle-aged southerner from a proper background, enamored of "the exquisite moments of pleasure that money bought," is forced to abandon her privileged life for one of lonely poverty when her faithless husband reveals a terrible family secret. In the title story, Frieda faces her husband's retirement: "After four months of solid togetherness…Frieda daydreamed that Milt had dropped dead" -- only to find a renewed hunger for life after an unpromising bus trip. In "Rapture," Janet believes she is dying, but the doctors say no; she proves them wrong in a euphoric dive. And in "Sweethearts," Garland, one week shy of her high school graduation, enthralled by the feelings of power bestowed by her first, tragically misguided affair, learns a painful lesson on the flip side of love.

Shomer's stories are insightful and empathetic, holding a mirror up to the forces that shape women's lives at all stages, and the innate strength that they possess to tackle them. (Summer 2007 Selection)
Publishers Weekly
Being away from home is a transformative experience for the women in this second collection by Iowa Short Fiction Award-winner Shomer (for Imaginary Men); 10 stories travel from Sweetheart, Fla., to Dharamsala, India, and range from the fantastical to the mundane. In the strongest story, "Fill in the Blank," 20-year-old Florida transplant Garland McKenney and her roommate, Linda, rob a Manhattan physical therapy office. The guilt weighs heavier on Linda, but it is Garland's confused moral compass that resonates. "Sweethearts," about Garland's high school affair with the local sheriff, explores the roots of Garland's criminal tendencies. Shomer has a knack for ferreting out the disappointment of aging, as in the title story, in which Frieda realizes she resents the company of her recently retired husband. Less accomplished are Shomer's stabs at out-there material. In the awkward and opening story, "Chosen," Iris, a speech therapist, discovers she is a Buddhist saint, while "Laws of Nature" features a woman who ages in reverse, a la Max Tivoli. The collection will appeal to Shomer's readership, but will do little to attract new eyes. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Women in extremis are featured in this second gathering of ten stories from the Florida poet and author of the prize-winning 1993 collection Imaginary Men. The volume gets off to a dynamic start with a mordantly funny account ("Chosen") of Jewish suburbanite and speech therapist Iris Hornstein's spiritual adventure, when she timidly follows the path described by two Asian strangers who assure her she's the reincarnation of a Tibetan Buddhist saint. This story is nicely echoed by the concluding "Laws of Nature," in which a woman contentedly ensconced in "early old age" feels and looks as if she's growing younger, but is in fact undergoing an even more remarkable "transformation." The other stories are a decidedly mixed lot. In "The Other Mother," a woman who dumps her longtime lover and moves to Florida frets over the loss of their adopted daughter, her emotions sharpened by a climactic surprise that fails to disguise the fact that the story lacks a point. Much the same can be said for the story of a Radcliffe student's romantic disillusionment during "The Summer of Questions," and an utterly unbelievable anecdote in which a middle-aged woman finds meaning in a fender-bender and subsequent confrontation with a low-level Puerto Rican drug dealer. "Fill in the Blank" and "Sweethearts" trace the misadventures of a girl from a broken home who "had started breaking rules" in childhood, and cannot stop. Shomer's edgy imagination functions best in a bizarre dark comedy in which a trio of women pornographers accidentally hook up with anti-nuclear protestors in "The Hottest Spot on Earth" (the Nevada desert), and in the wonderful title story, about a retired couple both united and divided by theprotagonist Frieda's memories of her active youth and enduring, inquisitive energies. A hit-and-miss collection, but its better stories are well worth attention.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307492067
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/10/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 667,160
  • File size: 2 MB

Reading Group Guide

1. A strong sense of place has traditionally been important in Southern fiction. What role does the state of Florida play in this collection? Can you imagine these stories taking place in another part of the country?

2. What makes these stories especially modern in your view? Why couldn’t Tourist Season have been written fifty years ago?

3. Shomer’s stories have been described as both poignant and humorous. How would you characterize the humor and how is it connected to the serious drama?

4. In “Chosen,” Iris Hornstein travels to Tibet to don the mantle of a reincarnated Buddhist saint. Can you imagine this happening to anyone you know? What does this story suggest about religion?

5. In “The Other Mother,” Sheila learns the true story behind Royal’s adoption when Royal is nearly an adult. How do you think Sheila would have reacted if she had learned the truth when Royal was much younger?

6. What impels Garland McKenney, the protagonist of both “Fill In the Blank” and “Sweethearts,” to commit her crimes? What do you think might prevent her in the future?

7. In the story “Tourist Season,” what do you think Frieda means when she tells Milt, “We’re both like Knoblock”? How would you characterize Frieda and Milt’s marriage? How does Frieda’s work as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot affect her life and their relationship?

8. In “Rapture” we learn that Janet “hardly ever referred to herself as an artist or to her work as art,” yet her show tours the South and is featured in an important art magazine. How do you explain this discrepancy? Do you think it is related to her fate?

9. “The Hottest Spot on Earth” alternates between two points of view, which is rare in a short story. Why do you think the author chose this technique rather than tell the story from a single viewpoint? What pulls Jill and Patricia together and what pushes them apart?

10. A key aspect of “Sweethearts” is Garland’s relationship to Carlene, the housekeeper. What role does race play in this story?

11. How would you describe Abby Presner’s behavior toward the unnamed young man in “Crash Course”? Why do you think she doesn’t get frightened until after the incident?

12. In “The Summer of Questions,” Riva unravels secrets she hadn’t even suspected existed. What mysteries does she solve and which remain? At the end of the story Alma says, “When you’re not being beautiful, make trouble.” What would Riva’s likely response to this be?

13. Do you believe that Helen in “Laws of Nature” is actually becoming younger, or did you read this story as a metaphor or fable? What do you think the author intended? Which other stories address the aging process?

14. What role do marriage and work play in these stories? In which stories are the two at war with each other, and in which do they coexist more happily? If you are married, what is the relationship between marriage and work in your own life?

15. The women in Tourist Season range from seventeen to over seventy. What differences do you see between the younger and the older protagonists? What do they have in common? Why do you think the author chose to include women of such a wide age range in the same collection?

16. If you could be any of the women in these stories, which would you choose? Which character did you most closely identify with?

17. Iris in “Chosen,” Sheila in “The Other Mother,” Garland in “Sweethearts,” and Helen in “Laws of Nature” all leave their old lives behind and find new ones. Do the catalysts for change come from within the women, or does environment or circumstance effect the need for change? What do you think might cause you to change your own life so drastically?

18. In what ways are the characters in these stories all tourists in their own lives?

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