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In "A Strange Tale from Down by the River," a story about arranged marriages, the narrator, Akemi, prepares to meet her fiancé after having had a memorable and active sex Ufe. The narrator of "Blood and Water," Chikako, is also starting her Ufe anew. She decides to leave the reUgious commune where she was raised and experience Ufe outside , on her own. New beginnings are also the subject of the surreal opening story, "Newlywed," which was serialized on posters aboard the Higashi Nippon Japan RaUway trains—a testimony to Yoshimoto's popularity in her native country. In an afterword to the Grove Press edition of Lizard, Yoshimoto writes that her characters "are encountering hope for the first time. The process of discovery usuaUy starts when they notice something about themselves or their surroundings that they were never aware of before ..." These are charming stories , in which the reader shares the magic of the characters' discoveries —and their newfound hopes. Reviews by: Brett Foster, Chris Michener, Jim Steck, Ranbir Sidhu, Pamela McClure, Mindy Berry, Reeves Hamilton, Willoughby Johnson, Evelyn Somers, Mary Creger, Ginny Morgan , Speer Morgan, Jeff Thomson, Brett Rogers REMAINDERS & REMINDERS Sam Stowers The past few months of wandering the book staUs produced encounters with at least two remarkable works of nonfiction. I may be the last person in the country to discover MeUssa Fay Greene's Praying for Sheetrock (Addison -Wesley, 1991). By the time I bought a hardback copy from the surplus table at the maU bookstore, the book had already been universaUy praised by almost every magazine that runs book reviews, and featured as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Somehow aU the pubUcity got by me. I was hooked the old-fashioned way by reading the first few pages while standing in the bookstore. Praying for Sheetrock is a unique picture of the momentous changes brought about by the CivU Rights Movement and the War on Poverty. Greene has startling powers as a reporter and a rare energy on the page. She takes us to Mcintosh County, Georgia, in the 1970s, a world that few people, even most Georgians, knew much about. Unchanged since the failure of Reconstruction and ruled by a corrupt white sheriff, Tom PoppeU, the county's landscape mixes rugged coastline with dark, whispering pine forests. Its county seat, Darien, was a sleepy backwater Southern town, seemingly beyond the reach of the twentieth century and the United States Constitution. Behind the facade of the dozing white town was a political cabal protecting gambling and prostitution operations that did miUions of dollars of iUegal business each year. Combining a historian's concern for context and consequence with a noveUsfs eye for manners and 236 · The Missouri Review attention to sensual detaU, Greene delivers on the promise she makes in the preface to show us what the county "looked like, sounded like, smeUed like and felt like" during that era of change. She draws on a considerable store of research and political savvy to explain the cultural and civic forces at work in Mcintosh County. Many of the reviews I belatedly read seemed to find Praying for Sheetrock to be one of those uplifting tales of the oppressed finding their voices and organizing to topple their oppressors. And so it is. But for me, the book's jewel is a Uterary, not a moral one. In a narrative as complex and brooding as the man himself, Greene describes the rise of Poppell's nemesis, ThurneU Alston, an uneducated black turpentine camp laborer, and his struggle to find within his personality and his community the power to defeat a corrupt dominion. Greene evokes Alston's Ufe with an almost musical intensity. I can comfortably recommend Praying for Sheetrock to almost anyone who enjoys reading. nical discussion and part aesthetic argument. Its method is literary and its perspective human. McDonough teUs us about his Ufe, loves and travels. He seemingly has Uved the Ufe of the kind of globe-trotting aesthete who appears in Wim Wenders' films. He takes us along on the filming of documentaries, features and commercials. He takes us to a footbaU field where the SkyCam, the flying camera that has made so...


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pp. 236-237
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