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Survival Rates (Hardcover) Loot Price: R533
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Survival Rates (Hardcover): Mary Clyde

Survival Rates (Hardcover)

Mary Clyde

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Loot Price R533 Discovery Miles 5 330

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Decently done but unremarkable debut collection, the recipient of this year's Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Most of the characters here - many of them Mormons, almost all living in the American Southwest - are either sick or connected intimately with sickness or tragedy. How they face the distress at hand becomes a measure of their character. Cecil, the nose surgeon of "Howard Johnson's House," has to carry on with his daily routine of facial reconstructions even as his mother Edna lies dying, beyond his assistance. Anna and Nicole, the two teenaged cancer patients of "Krista Had a Treble Clef Rose," carry on with all the normal occupations of adolescence - crushes on boys, preparations for dances, fantasies about their futures - from the oncology ward of the hospital where they've met. "A Good Paved Road" describes a religious dilemma: a high school girl tries to convert her boyfriend to the Mormon Church she grew up in, then loses her faith when she fails. And in "Victor's Funeral Urn," a recently divorced wife who's contemplating a reunion with her ex-husband happens upon an urn containing what appear to be human ashes on the side of a road - and then tries to locate the owner. "Jumping" finds a woman still haunted by a skiing accident 33 years after the fact. The best of the lot is the title story, describing the dual traumas of a husband being treated for thyroid cancer and of the wife whose exhaustion over his disease prompts her to leave him. Clyde knows her world well and manages to offer a fair representation of it, but there's a lack of depth to her sketches that make them seen like just that - quick studies. (Kirkus Reviews)
A baby's funeral urn has been lost. A dog has bitten off a girl's nose. The abandoned butterflies have been set free. The doctor has diagnosed a fatal illness. Mary Clyde's stories explore not so much what has happened already but what happens next. Sometimes the most difficult part of life's misfortunes is trying to find a way to go on. Characters ask, How does it matter? What does it mean to survive? These questions are explored by men, women, teenagers, and children in an environment that is hostile not only to the heart but also to the body. Illness bristles through the book, magnifying emotional undercurrents. In "Howard Johnson's House, " a plastic surgeon tries to summon up unfelt love for his mother when confronted with her diagnosis of leukemia. Two teenage girls survive surgery and the prospect of never eating popcorn again in "Krista Had a Treble Clef Rose." A diagnosis of cancer tears a marriage apart and then pulls it back together again in the title story, "Survival Rates."

The desert Southwest is a constant presence in these stories, populated with frightening javelinas, black widows, coyotes that eat cats, boulders that can crush cars. The characters are pioneers, some of whom share the author's Mormon heritage. They find that despite modern times, western landscapes are often harsh, always indifferent, and far more patient than the people who tenuously inhabit them.


Imprint: University of Georgia Press
Country of origin: United States
Release date: March 1999
First published: March 1999
Authors: Mary Clyde
Dimensions: 204 x 133 x 21mm (L x W x T)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 184
ISBN-13: 978-0-8203-2049-6
Categories: Books > Fiction > General & literary fiction > Modern fiction
Books > Fiction > Special features > Short stories
LSN: 0-8203-2049-8
Barcode: 9780820320496

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