In this striking first collection of short fiction, Lauber tells essentially two stories in 17--first that of secretive, sassy Loretta Dardio's growing up in Union, a ``speck in the northwestern corner of Ohio,'' and then that of her love affair with a black boy from the other side of town. As a child, Loretta dwells unwillingly among middle-class white women trapped in ``the chaste and dull world of marriage,'' and her first-person observations of their slow, uneventful days and ``chronic complaining'' are sympathetic but wickedly wry. But Loretta loses her acerbity when she falls for Luther Biggs and, eventually, for his family, a strong, warm, honest matriarchy totally unlike her own. The omniscient narrator of the last few stories is as expertly presented as the bumbling adolescent rebel voice of the earlier ones. Her masterly variations on a theme of love tolerated, withheld, won and lost command us to believe in Union, a bona fide ``dull spot'' of universal interest. (Jan.)
Set in a small Ohio town in the 1960s, these 17 interconnected stories are coming-of-age anecdotes from the young life of Loretta Dardio. In her preteen years Loretta has a sense of humor, compassion for the underdog, and a critical eye for the boredom of her parents' lives. As a rebellious teenager she moves from her adolescent fantasies of romance into a serious love affair with Luther Biggs, a black boy from the wrong side of town. There is no nostalgia for the 1960s here, only lingering feelings of unfulfilled dreams and unhappy relationships. Lauber makes a promising debut, managing the subject of interracial dating with a sympathetic touch.-- Dean Willms, Fort Collins P.L., Col.