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untroubled, bucolic vistas, "Pastoral" offers the reader a "season of wasps," "season of the divided-in-parts." Refuge and wholeness are denied us. Here is a pastoral landscape populated with what stings and crawls, where fecundity is a threat. As Prüfer writes in "Report for the Lovelorn," "all of us [are] living on the shivering surface of a black wing." With rich verbal surprises, as in "hissing like the committed/at the bottom of their tires" or "Dusk falls like God's own black breath" or "streetlights winked like drops at the tips of a hundred syringes," this book more than satisfies. If the reader seeks poems that challenge, that refuse to turn away from what is harsh and brutal, filled with shivering, shimmering images that transcend the dialectic of beauty and truth, then The Finger Bone is a must-read. (WB) Folly by Susan Minot Washington Square Press, 1992, 278 pp., $12 Rapture by Susan Minot Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, 116 pp., $18 Folly (1992) is Minot's third work of fiction, following Monkeys (1986) and Lust and Other Stories (1989). Her fourth novel, Evening, was published in 1998 and a fifth, Rapture, in 2002. She also wrote the screenplay for Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1996). Set in early-twentieth-century Boston , Folly is told primarily through the consciousness of Lilian Eliot, a wealthy young woman who comes of age during World War I. Twentyfive years unfurl in fifty-eight brief chapters as LUlian matures from a dreamy, hopeful ingenue into a dutiful , emotionally bankrupt daughter, wife and mother. The novel contains much conversation , but the author employs no quotation marks. Narrative and dialogue consequently flow together in one swift nimble through pampered Lilian's bereft and lonely life. The passage of time is compressed into a few spare, transitional words or sentences: "The days wentby as they always did in Maine. Lilian took a walk in the morning, had lunch with her mother and Arthur and a guest. . . ." Intimate moments are compressed as weU, into slight and ominous phrases: "The night [Gilbert] asked [Lilian] to marry him was a June night in the back garden of Fairfield street. There was a fog from the river. The light from the drawing room doors fell across them." As a young lady, Lilian's greatest challenge is to marry. She doesn't have to marry wealth because she hails from a wealthy family herself. It is important that her husband work, however, so there will be something to occupy him while Lilian supervises the household staff, attends luncheons, visits family and friends. Lilian settles for Gilbert Finch, whose dull-eyed stare she mistakes briefly for tongue-tied passion. Three children are bom in quick succession, and their upbringing engages Lilian to some degree, even though she has plenty of staff to assist her. Meanwhile, her husband plods off to a dulljob day in and day out, coming home only to disappear behind booze and thick books in an easy chair. Her children thump up 206 · The Missouri Review and down the stairs, requiring little parental support. While Lilian is outwardly faithful to Gilbert, her heart never forgets Walter Vail, a mysterious man who instilled intense though vague passion in her when she was young. Vail goes off to World War I and stays on in Europe, marrying a French woman. Stories of him filter back to Lilian through the years and never faU to stir her, especiaUy as Gilbert bounces back and forth between benign eccentricity and frightening mental instability. Although Gilbert is physically present, Lilian feels he is more ghost than husband. Vail briefly pops back into Lilian's life after his wife dies, and she has a sexual encounter with him that fuels her gaunt interior life for years, even though he disappears without a word after their rendezvous. The years pass, and again Vail pops into Lilian's life, presumably to have another passionate tryst. For a moment, Lilian seems ready to throw off the shackles of her dull life once and for aU, but before she and Vail even take their clothes off, he tells her he's invited a woman friend to join them...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 206-208
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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