From Publishers Weekly
Fifteen abrasive stories exploring identity and reality constitute Mesmer's slight first collection of short fiction. She uses, with uneven success, the vivid language that characterizes the verse and prose poems of her debut poetry collection, Half Angel, Half Lunch. These tales, many as brief as a single page, usually feature a troubled narrator--often a writer--whose bitter, low self-esteem and lack of a psychological compass often land her in a moral or literal gutter. Both the title story, a heavy-handed recollection of the narrator's development as a writer, and "I Married a Bay City Roller," which details the narrator's downward spiral in Glasgow among drug-addicted rockers, are addressed to specific listeners: "I met you in a gallery on a national holiday." Other stories aim for dreamlike weirdness. In "Harm," a woman witnesses a man kill his wife and is then asked by the police to raise the man's daughter, but there is little resonance to a story that barely hints at the motives of its characters. "My Life in Yonago" riffs off of Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons; "The Hours of a Transfigured Night" uses the eight three-hour prayer periods of Catholic monastic orders to organize the memories of the speaker, a nun; and "As If" is an amusing pastiche of bad similes written by high school students. These tales illustrate Mesmer's intention to determine the best way to convey meaning through language, but in general her short fiction is indistinguishable from her prose poetry, except that the stories are longer. Readers may be frustrated with the truncated tales, none of which develop their premises to completion. Yet Mesmer's evocative poetic language provides refreshingly clear images and clever turns of phrase.
Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Sharon Mesmer is the author of Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2008), The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose, 2008), Vertigo Seeks Affinities (Belladonna Books, 2006), Half Angel, Half Lunch (Hard Press, 1998) and Crossing Second Avenue (ABJ Books, Japan, 1997). Her prose collections are Ma Vie ... Yonago (Hachette Litt‚ratures, France, in French translation, 2005) and In Ordinary Time and The Empty Quarter (Hanging Loose Press, 2005 and 2000). Lonely Tylenol, an art book in collaboration with the painter David Humphrey, was published in 2003 by Flying Horse Editions/University of Central Florida. She is a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in poetry.