Andrew Marton

Book Brief

May 05, 2002|By Knight Ridder Newspapers

Female Trouble: Stories,

by Antonya Nelson. Scribner. 249 pages. $24.

Nearly all of Nelson's 13 stories are satisfying because she is able to limn from the banality of domestic comfort insistent little truths that linger like incense. First among these revelations is how women are just as capable as men of stirring up a perfectly comfortable life until it is subverted and forever changed.

It is in "Palisades" that one finds Nelson at her most challenging. Here, a woman in comfortable circumstances feels compelled to topple the bourgeois good fortune of her predictable life.

"Palisades" gathers together under one 19-page roof the entire short story collection's thematic pursuit of how women in particular are willing -- no matter the cost -- to rail against numbing contentment and status stultification just for the pure thrill of surprising themselves.

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