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linen sheets for his "Silent Woman." He entertains the illusion that he is bringing his "woman" back to him, and he recoils with disgust when Fräulein Moos speaks of "Shipment . . . as if his beloved were freight!" For Oskar, the "idol" who will be arriving in a packing crate must be "his bride" for their "honeymoon cottage." He recognizes that he is "devoting himselfto fantasy and falsehood," yethow else "to keep himself alive?" The arrival of the packing crate with the life-sized figure of Alma causes Oskar to realize profoundly the extent of his delusion; this realization leads to considerable pain and suffering. He soon becomes two distinct persons: in public, a vivacious, talkative man; in private, introspective and grieving. If he finds solace in humor, referring to Madame as "rather beastly," inside he is bitterly struggling with the shocking disparity between actual and ideal. Only when Oskar the public man displays his life-sized doll figure at a party with his friends and colleagues is the spell broken—with some hilarity and, on Oskar's part, considerable emotional bloodletting. Madame, the "woman" object, is finally demystified for Oskar, and the very next morning he is willing to consign the mangled "toy" to the dustman's cart. But by now it has done its work; his passion back, Oskar has begun to paint. Oskar's own madness, while it held him in the grip ofa delusion, has nonetheless given him back his passion. The Silent Woman powerfully evokes the truth of this assertion: without passion, the artist is dead. With fire, the artist is prepared to live as well as to pursue the elusive ideal—to avoid thinking and to listen with his eyes. 0S) Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles William Morrow, 2002, 321 pp., $24.95 A war tale, a love story, a woman imprisoned, a jailbreak, arduous journeys home—Paulette Jiles's first novel, Enemy Women, has mountains of promise, and the poet-turnednovelist delivers. In history, what paraUel exists for the Civil War in the Missouri Ozarks? Maybe only in the Balkans can one cite a similar rampage of human evü. To this violent time Jiles brings a heroine with a sharp mind, quick tongue and miles of fortitude. Adair Randolph CoUey is the daughter of a justice of the peace. The CoUeys have no discernible aUegiances. But when the war obliterates civilized authority, a Union militia batters and captures her father, steals aU their horses and sets fire to the house. Adair is arrested and taken to the women's prison in St. Louis. There Major William Neumann interrogates her. As he arranges her escape, Neumann promises he wtil find her after the war. Meanwhile, he receives his long-awaited transfer to a combat unit at the worst time—just when he has faUen for her. The latter half of the book details Adair's difficult trek home and Neumann 'sharrowing trip through war. In the tense closing chapters, both characters struggle toward a reunion. Testifying to the author's prodigious talent as a fiction writer is the account of Neumann's battle experience in Alabama. She writes this sandy, sunny, bloody scenery as weU as she writes any slough or swamp in southeast Missouri. 204 · The Missouri Review Jiles is no sentimentalist. Bears tear people apart. Horses panic, bite and wedge riders between cypresses. Yet no novelist since Donald Harington has so vibrantly evoked the wilderness of the Ozarks. She knows every tree, vine and wildflower, every creature on wing, hoof or padded claw, and on her trek home, Adair spots them aU. Jiles delights in schooling us with Ozark Civil War knowledge and folkways . And she teUs mighty good history. Her prologue, a briefing on the war before the novel's 1864 start, could hold its own with any chunk of James McPherson or Albert Castel. Reviewers have compared this book to Cold Mountain. In the end, Enemy Women is the more satisfying book. Jiles indulges no one. Ozarkers, even Adair, can be as mean, narrow, spiteful, bigoted and hateful as the times warrant. Heroes win no great rewards. Sometimes ladies steal to survive. Enemy Women is on many levels more the real...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 204-205
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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