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deeper into sensitive territory and into trouble (a brutal beating and a close brush with a murder accusation are two of the trials he faces), his friends withdraw and he finds himself alone with an unsolvable riddle. Some of the best moments in the novel are those solitary ones in which Will questions his motivations for continuing to probe into a decades-old mystery. This, along with the twists in his tenuous relationship to Lisa, rather than the mystery itself, becomes the heart of the novel. Collignon's New Mexico village feels absolutely real, as do his dialogue , and the characters' actions; people really do behave exactly this way. There's a faint hint of magical realism in some of the village's history —enough to give the novel an exotic feel that serves it well. Will is admirably sensitive, Lisa appealingly tough, and Felipe is a decent guy, though he does cop out on Will for a while. Even Ray Pacheco, the villain of the book—if he can be called that—is mostly redeemed in the end. The story resolves on a satisfying note, though perhaps too easily, pointing up the one small flaw of the novel: Collignon's tendency to go for the graceful moment rather than wrestle down more awkward issues and themes. But that's a minor quibble, and in part a matter of the reader's taste. You won't be bored by this book, and you'll leave it feeling good. Perdido is a satisfying short novel by a natural storyteller. (ES) The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle Viking, 1996, 226 pp., $22.95 Doyle, internationally acclaimed author of The Commitments and The Snapper, and the 1993 Booker Prizewinning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, spins a chilling yarn in the voice of Paula Spencer, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of four. The story, like much of Doyle's previous fiction, is set in his native Dublin. Married to Charles "Charlo" Spencer for eighteen years, Paula learns that he has been killed by the police after shooting a woman. Assuming the worst, Paula decides Charlo must have killed one of his girlfriends. Only later do we learn the actual facts of the murder. Doyle's ability to keep us believing one thing, then catch us off guard with the truth, is part of the genius of this book. Paula spends the first half of the novel denying Charlo's eighteen years of abuse, her own alcoholism, and the fact that her husband was an out-and-out monster. After a longish introduction to Paula's family, with all of its implied sexual abuse and sibling rivalry, we can see the groundwork for the dysfunctional relationship to come. Unfortunately, Paula's ticket out was Charlo, a macho, hard-drinking bad-boy in a leather bomber jacket. "I swooned the first time I saw Charlo. I actually did ... I suddenly knew that I had lungs because they were empty and collapsing," says Paula, hinting at what later becomes her Achilles heel—her inability to confront her emotions without first losing something . If the Irish setting rings fully authentic , so, too, does Doyle's portrayal of the relationship between Paula and Charlo. Charlo acts as 208 · The Missouri Review though he is truly in love with his wife, making it impossible for her to hate him for his abuse. It is only when Charlo begins to threaten Paula's oldest daughter that she finally kicks him out, in a gloriously violent revenge scene during which she beats him over the head with a frying pan. Now, however, begins Paula's biggest challenge. How does she raise four children with no job and a worsening drinking problem? The answer is: not gracefully. Charlo's departure is not a magical solution. Instead, we must watch Paula lose a daily battle with alcoholism while her oldest daughter assumes the responsibility of raising the youngest child. Though Paula finally better understands what has happened to her, and that she was not the cause of all of her problems, there is no happy ending to this story. (BF) Here We Are in Paradise by Tony Earley Little, Brown...


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pp. 208-209
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