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famously, the institution of polygamy . Fundamentalists foUow a strict sexual code; polygamy seems to be a socialization of male adulterous impulses at the cost of female autonomy . They tend to ignore secular laws, disregarding taxes and licenses, except (many people charge) insofar as they can work the social welfare system to their advantage. They are the frequent recipients ofdivine revelations, a disconcerting number of which are apocalyptic in nature. Clearly, Krakauer is still intrigued by extremism. Into Thin Air was about extreme mountaineering; the overlooked Into the Wild was about the tragic attempt of a young man to live off the land alone in Alaska. He writes elegantly, and this latest volume is nearly as good as Into Thin Air. Many outdoorspeople and Westerners will have spent some time in Mormon country without reaUy knowing, until they read this book, where they were; and many other readers will be alternately appalled and astonished by this account. (JS) Disappearing Ingenue: The Misadventures ofEleanor Stoddard by Melissa Pritchard Doubleday, 2002, 239 pp., $23.95 Disappearing Ingenue is Melissa Pritchard's fifth book of fiction and her third collection of award-winning stories, foUowing The Instinctfor Bliss (1995) and Spirit Seizures (1987). The stories in this volume explore different stages in the fictional Eleanor Stoddard's life, beginning when she is twelve and ending as she approaches fifty. Rather than delve into the biological rites of passage that include first menstrual period, childbirth and menopause, the stories examine what Pritchard referred to in an interview as "the personal and private—often unspoken—rites that evolve from the pressures of society and family expectations" (Glimmer Train, Summer 2003). As reflected in "Port de Bras," the rites begin at a young age, when twelve-year-old Eleanor is subjected to harsh criticism and painful contortions in ballet class. They continue in "Salve Regina," when she attends a dreaded cotillion wearing puffy chiffon , gold lamé and too-tight emerald heels, a fussy outfit assembled by her social-climbing mother. In both stories the rites—intended to produce a graceful ingenue—induce emotional as weU as physical pain. Although she is outwardly compliant, Eleanor protects herself by developing some subversive rites of her own. At the cotillion she hides in the lavatory until time to go home; at the library she secretly reads books that are deemed inappropriate for young ladies; at home she keeps her rosary and other religious artifacts hidden from her agnostic parents; at school she forms friendships with girls who do notmeet with parental approval. The protective dissembling that Eleanor cultivates as a girl continues into adulthood. As a coUege student she discovers stage acting. Since the ingenue role has often required that she play someone she is not, theater suits her weU. There is, however, no ready-made script for unexpected tragedy, which Eleanor suddenly faces. Her gut response is desperate but honest. Nevertheless, it is not ingenue-approved behavior and must join her growing litany of secrets. In The Missouri Review · 201 "The Case of the Disappearing Ingenue ," Eleanor discovers that her husband is having an affair, and she reacts as a proper ingenue should, by ignoring the crisis altogether. There's a twist, however, because she channels her feelings ofbetrayal into amateur sleuthing. Rather than traU her cheating husband, she pursues the stable manager where her daughter takes riding lessons to discover if he is the socialite murderer some suspect him of being. The comical but potentiaUy dangerous escapade has Eleanor masquerading as a wealthy socialite in her effort to uncover clues. The ironic underlying message is that it may be more prudent to put your life at risk than to go against ingenue etiquette. EventuaUy she is able to assertively shuck aU disguises in "The Widow's Poet," in which a mature Eleanor, now a recently widowed poetry professor, embarks on a relationship with brooding , alternately cruel and sensitive Christian, one of her coUege students. In him she recognizes her "elusive, maimed twin," a part of herself she has long denied. Her obsessive pursuit of the tormented and sensual young man signifies that Eleanor is ready to openly embrace a dark, dangerous, but ultimately vital aspect of her own...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 201-202
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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