From Publishers Weekly
In the title story of this lively, honest debut collection set in California and Oregon, two 14-year-old girls, concessions workers at a zoo, get into a fistfight outside the lions' cage. The girls aren't "big" cats yet, but they're trying, and Reinhorn captures their adolescent ebullience and sexual bravado. The adults in the remaining stories are often profoundly lonely—hungering for connection, they take or conjure it where they can. The Vietnam vet and former convict narrating "My Name" works in an old age home, where he focuses his affection on a catatonic woman who briefly wakes to call him by her son's name. In "Fuck You," a terse but morally complicated piece about the subtle abuse of adult power over children, a lonely pregnant woman coerces companionship from an adolescent Little Leaguer. In "Get Away from Me, David," Reinhorn vividly evokes an alcoholic bank manager's precariousness: barely holding up under daily stresses, including an earthquake and a dead customer, he hallucinates his dead wife and contemplates a bottle of Dayquil "while the world is murmuring alternatives." These tight and uncontrived stories bring authentic characters to vivid life. (July)
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It's no mistake that the title of this impressive debut collection sounds very much like that of a guided-tour pamphlet at the zoo. Reinhorn ushers us through the lives of her characters, unafraid to show them in their natural, if claustrophobic, habitat, each of them anxious and pacing. Set often in a purgatorylike 1970s and delivered in prose that manages to be acerbic and beautiful all at once, these stories frequently rely on the weight of one or two moments, stretched around the characters like taffy. A Vietnam veteran tenderly nursing an old woman vividly remembers robbing a store in his dress blues. Two girls tussle on the concrete after one taunts the other with a slow-motion striptease. A troubled teenage girl is seen running on the asphalt track in her bare feet, arms spread like wings. But what's most remarkable here is Reinhorn's dialogue; it's often so perfect that you find yourself creating gestures and expressions for her characters that she never even needed to write. Annie TullyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved