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chairs where avuncular comedians teU stories; and The Preemption itself, a grande dame of an apartment buUding with commanding views, high ceilings, wood-and-brass trim and the city's oldest functioning Otis elevator, which serves as the buUding 's spine and, for at least one resident , a confessor. James Branch ultimately tells the entire central story of Kissing in Manhattan to the elevator, but not until late in the book. Branch, a meek accountant who keeps to himself while working to control his stutter, is introduced early in "The Opals," in which he discovers a phantom presence underneath a sex store who hands out rare and priceless jewelry. James finds himself with a pair of opal earrings and a mission. James's roommate, Patrick Riggs, is a stockbroker who tikes to carry a handgun, tie up a different beautiful woman every night and then leave her in his bedroom while he carouses in the next room with unknowing friends. One suchwoman is Rally McWilliams, a writer in search of the ideal mate. The three become entwined in the events of later stories, and to say more would give away too mudi. However, Shickler involves other unlikely elements: a priest, the presence of the buUding itself, several visits to Hat Michael's, the deus ex machina of a band of angry skinheads and a green baUoon. Schickler's deft stories can each stand on their own. But through their interconnectedness he shows how a coUection ofstories can stretchbeyond what even some novels can do in terms of characterization, perspective , and distance. Not only are these stories enormously entertaining and absorbing; they also reveal a new writer whose abtiity in the form should prepare us for more very exciting work. (GW) Lucky by Alice Sebold Little, Brown, 2002, 243 pp., $11.95 Alice Sebold, author of the number -one best-seUer The Lovely Bones, again demonstrates Uterary risk-taking with Lucky, a memoir that foUows Sebold through events that occurred after the brutal rape she suffered as a freshman at Syracuse University. Lucky is the story of a coming-ofage interrupted by brutaUty but not immobilized by it. Sebold takes readers with her through a violent rape, an aftermath in which she helps get her attacker convicted and finally to her recognition and acceptance of a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress syndrome. "I had dismissed [PTS] as so much psychobabble," she writes. "The only way I would beUeve it was to discover it on my own." These words mark the beginning of just one of Sebold's many battles, this time against her own fears and denials of PTS. Through telling events, the book transforms itself into a social commentary , portraying Sebold as victim and fighter. Having begun college as a typical undergrad, Sebold was unprepared for her transformation into a pubUc figure, as a woman who had been raped. For readers, it may be hard to beUeve that this change must occur; but Sebold's descriptions of public responses confirm society's suspicion of the rape The Missouri Review · 197 victim and its beUef that she cannot be the same person she was before the rape. PoUce in charge of Alice's case react incredulously to her announcement that she was a virgin before being raped. Her father struggles to understand howshecould have let the man rape her after he dropped his knife. Boys at Syracuse warn each other at parties that, "FYI, that girl's been raped." Rather than minimize these and other more expUcit details or gush about her recovery, Sebold balances the harsh reactions of society and her own responses. She communicates her ordeals without letting loose the flood of emotions you sense are buUding up behind the words. For example, she relates the rape trial meticulously, saving her particular feelings for more typical experiences now tainted by rape—college, friends, drugs, sex, protective parents, etc. Through it all Sebold conveys her beUef in her own blessedness, her luck at not only living through it but Uving to teU about it. The plot of Lucky is a frightening page-turner as much as it is a memoir , for Sebold's journey, her reconciliation of "heU and hope...


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pp. 197-198
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