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Weird Women, Wired Women
     

Weird Women, Wired Women

by Kit Reed
 

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Kit Reed has been delighting and terrifying readers for over thirty years with her darkly comic speculative fiction. This collection of short stories, drawn from a lifetime's work, shows Reed at the top of her form. First published in venues ranging from The Missouri Review to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction

Overview

Kit Reed has been delighting and terrifying readers for over thirty years with her darkly comic speculative fiction. This collection of short stories, drawn from a lifetime's work, shows Reed at the top of her form. First published in venues ranging from The Missouri Review to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction, these twenty stories deal with women's lives and feminist issues from the kitchen sink and pink dishmop era through the warlike years of the women's movement to the uneasy accommodation of the present.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Her humorous, ironic prose could best be described as The Feminine Mystique meets The Twilight Zone. Her surreal short stories provide a unique commentary on the role of women in America from the 1950s to the present.” —Booklist

“Reed is that good, her writing is a treasure house of gems.” —Washington Post Book World

“She is the SF writer par excellence of the war between the generations . . . Kit Reed frees us as we read her.”—John Clute, Science Fiction Weekly

“Full of humor, pathos, understanding, and an insidious horror which makes laughter as wild as a scream, and makes terror an hilarious release.”—Worlds Ahead

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reed has been writing what she calls "speculative" stories for 40 years, and this is a collection of 19 short narratives that specifically focus on the problems of women during those four decades particularly on the fraught relationships between mothers and daughters. These range from the early "The Wait" (1958), in which a mother who has always been protective but conventional yields to a horrifying new convention that will sacrifice her daughter, to last year's "Whoever," in which a terminally trendy teenager tries to choose between the parent who adopted her (as a sperm-bank baby) and two other women who may be the "real" mother she craves. These stories hover on the brink of science fiction and have a strong element of fantasy. They embrace, with fearful lucidity, contemporary trends like the passion for the perfect house ("Cynosure," 1964); the all-enveloping beauty contest ("In Behalf of the Product," 1973); the fiercer side of feminist combativeness ("Songs of War," 1974); and the obsession with fashion ("Like My Dress," 1993). There is no doubt about the prescience of Reed's earlier stories, or about the despairing sense of the consumerist media culture that infuses the later ones. Her writing is always crisp and to the point. There is, however, a kind of unrelenting obsessiveness not unlike that of Reed's characters. The lack of contrast to offset the prevailing darkness becomes unnerving, and the total effect, while impressive, is somewhat cold.
Library Journal
The 20 short stories in Reed's collection smash the facade of straight, white, middle-class suburban life. All previously published, they span Reed's prodigious 30-year career. She is the author of six previous short-story collections, 13 novels, and four books written under a pseudonym and assess conventional gender roles and everyday sexism. But that is the only thing conventional about Reed's writing. Her take on these well-worn subjects is fresh, and her ambivalence about both marriage and motherhood is refreshing. Anger, resentment, love, and obligation blur in tales that blend pathos and irony with the downright weird. "Unlike pneumonia, motherhood is an irreversible condition," Reed writes in "The Mothers of Shark Island," a surreal look at the disrespect afforded mothers who become burdensome to their children. "Last Fridays" introduces a group of eight, all mothers of convicted serial killers. Reed calls her stories "womanist" and is clearly using fiction as a vehicle for social criticism. Moving and eerie, sharp and scary, these are stories to knot the stomach and boggle the mind. Highly recommended. Eleanor J. Bader, New Sch. for Social Research, New York
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist Reed's ("J. Eden", 1996, etc.) sixth sheaf of stories, covering more than 30 years of her darkly speculative fiction. Though a handful of these are fresh to print, and all are chosen to hew to the titular theme of women, it's not clear whether most have been drawn from earlier collections. In any event, the volume offers a definitive, indispensable sampling of Reed in top form. These are unconventional stories, the kind that make most editors wince and tremble unless they're longtime impresarios of the far-out—such as "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction", which first published many of these tales. Still, not all of Reed's work really goes beyond the pale. Among the standouts, for example, is "The Wait," a piece not so distant from Shirley Jackson's now classic "The Lottery." In Reed's telling, the ill of a small town in Georgia are made to lie down outdoors in the village square until someone passes through who can offer them a cure; young virgins (and not-so- young) are made to wait in a field until. . . .when? A bit stranger is "The Weremother," a story about a mother werewolf whose love proves to be so strong that she'll break through steel to get to her son—and yet she worries, too, about whether his fianc‚e will know how to iron his shirts. No silver bullet or stake can stop her, for even when dead she still wields—guilt! Yet more matriarchs people "The Mothers of Shark Island," but these get eaten—by sharks—after they try to escape from prison. For such martyrs, no doubt, the only final resting place can be The Tomb of the Unknown Mother. For your five most wanted list. And don't miss "The Bride of Bigfoot."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819522559
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
04/24/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
234
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are Saying About This

Pamela Sargent
“Reed is an expert at using science fiction to cast a subversive eye on women's roles. This fine showcase of some of her best stories is a significant contribution.”
Marleen Barr
“A significant and needed contribution by an important feminist fiction writer who has the guts and wit of Joanna Russ and James Tiptree, Jr.”
Paul Di Filippo
Illustrating the power of fantastic literature to illuminate real sociological dilemmas and personal psychological states, Reed's collection is both a popular book for general readers and a useful primary text for studying twentieth century writing by women.
Brian W. Aldiss
“Her flights of fancy are tipped with curare.”
Marleen S. Barr
A significant and needed contribution by an important feminist fiction writer who has the guts and the wits of Joanna Russ and James Piptree Jr.

Meet the Author

KIT REED is an Adjunct Professor of English at Wesleyan University. Her twelve novels include Captain Grownup, Catholic Girls, Little Sisters of the Apocalypse, and her newest J.Eden. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and the first American recipient of a five-year literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation. In SF, she has published three short story collections and the novels Armed Camps, Magic Time, Fort Privilege, and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse, a finalist for the Tiptree Prize. “Whoever,” the next –to-last short story she read in the New York Review of Science Fiction’s series at Dixon Place this year, is forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. “The Singing Marine” was a short story nominee at the 1996 World Fantasy Convention.

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