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Bargains in the Real World: Thirteen Stories Hardcover – March 6, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Children are forced to grow up fast in novelist Cox's collection of 13 simple, unsettling short stories, set mostly in the South. Against a backdrop of cozy domesticity, reckless acts, abuse and abandonment disturb but rarely destroy the lives of stoic, resilient girls and women. In "The Singers, 1949," Jenny, now an adult, recalls her molestation at age nine, which left her confused but sure of the act's significance ("I stood by the tree and tried to decide if I was different or the same"). In "Biology," 15-year-old Evie, a character from Cox's most recent novel, Night Talk, vows to change her promiscuous ways after she is jilted by her preacher lover, a grown man. Sex and religion mix again in "Saved," when 13-year-old Josie pledges to be a missionary and tries to simultaneously save and seduce a stranger. In one of Cox's strongest stories, "The Last Fourth Grade," a teacher in prison for murdering her husband accuses one of her former students, now a mother herself, of having encouraged the teacher's dead husband to fondle the former student as a child. Even the most benign narratives have dark undertones. A misunderstanding propels the protagonist of "Washed" into marrying a Gulf War veteran; a woman whose husband was killed in an accident comes to terms with his death in "A Sounding Brass." This is Cox's first story collection, and her succinct, subtle prose proves to be particularly well suited to the form. Too careful styling may muffle the stories' effectiveness at times, but Cox's talent for understatement lends the collection a quiet, burnished glow. Agent, Susan Lescher. (Mar. 9)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

There is an old-fashioned sensibility to Cox's storytelling. Bucking contemporary trends in fiction that rely on pop-culture references and shock value, Cox's gentle prose evokes a Southern warmth that is reflected in the setting of most of her stories. That is not to say that all is sunny in the world of her characters: sexual abuse and the early sexual experiences of young girls are common themes. But rather than subscribing to "victimology," the people in Cox's stories survive and function despite their negative experiences. For instance, "Land of Goshen" is a beautiful rendering of a mother's life with a mentally handicapped son, while "Snail Darter" tells a similar story from the boy's perspective. Recommended for academic and public libraries.DChristine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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