From Publishers Weekly
In 13 stories, Baker delights in placing ordinary, plain-speaking characters in extraordinary circumstances. The bounty hunter of the title story tracks cheerleaders in the mountains of Montana: "What the manatee is to the naturalist in the mangrove swamp, what the race car is to the Hoosier, what the tornado is to the Kansan--that is what the cheerleader is to the Montanan. Cheerleaders are Possibility, they are Chance, they are Fate; they are beauty, and grace, and poetry." In other pieces, a white, Southern six-year-old describes her new classmates: black, Siamese twins joined at the heart; and on the eve of her death, "the world's foremost authority on the lesser flamingo" spends a last moment observing her beloved birds as they honk, express affection and boredom, spread their wings, scream, preen and groom. A child of white explorers/hunters in the Arctic, who lives in total isolation, recounts how she ate her parents' corpses after they died of starvation ("I never loved them more than when I carved the most nutritious portions . . . from their still-warm flesh"); and a scientist tries on makeup and imagines himself as a woman when a friend announces that he's changing his sex. Amusing and spirited, if underdeveloped, this debut shows promise.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A first collection of stories with great first lines, usually followed by fictions as light as air--some antic or absurd, others delicate or touching. The title piece is one of the best: a good-humored comedy about an Indiana girl out West, a sort of bounty hunter looking for cheerleaders in the mountains who've never been seen but ``were part of the mountain mythology.'' ``Better Be Ready 'Bout Half Past Eight'' is both hilarious and moving: `` `I'm changing sex,' Zach said.'' That first line starts off an absurd chain of events as seen through the eyes of Zach's best friend. Zach, who becomes Zoe, is finally forced to say, ``I think you're letting this come between us.'' Baker's tone, light but not frothy, is just right. But those two stories are the high points here; others are slick entertainments, albeit with sober undercurrents: ``The Spread of Peace'' (first line: ``If peace spreads, Heather may lose her job'') is about a weapons designer at the end of the cold war who's also faced with a lump in her breast; ``My Life in the Frozen North'' is a mock explorer-narrative told by a young woman, ``the child of explorers,'' who learns that ``The law of life in the Frozen North is Eat,'' and comes to realize, sadly, that her parents ``discovered nothing''; and ``Clearwater and Latissimus'' is the moving story of Siamese twins, told by a naive (and ``normal'') fellow student. Other pieces here are shapeless or cutesy, but the best are luminous with verbal play and intimations of how ordinary strangeness can be. (Some have appeared in Atlantic, the Best of the West, New Stories from the South and various lit mags.) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.