BEST FICTION
SMALL PRESS BOOK AWARD
FINALIST 1999

THE GEOGRAPHY
OF WOMEN

A Romantic Comedy

A Novel by
JACK FRITSCHER

Full Text Reviews:

Richard Labonte, A Different Light Bookstore, New Books Weekly, Mar 17, 1998
M.W. Sonoma County Independent, Vol. 19 No. 50, May 7-May 13, 1998
Terry Solomon, The Petaluma Post, No. 139, May 1998
Steve, MSN: Reading Forum Library
Chesley Springer
, We The People, Vol 14, No. 6, June 1998
James A. Cox, THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, "Reviewer's Bookwatch
Matt, Welter, SMALL PRESS REVIEW, May-June, Vol. 30 Nos. 5-6, Issues 304-305
Lucy Jane Bledsoe, LAMBDA BOOK REPORT, August 1998, Vol. 6.13
Nancy Sundstrom, INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER, Nov/Dec 1998, Vol. 16 #6
Victor Terry, CHECKMATE Magazine, No. 25, November 1998
Nancy Sundstrom, NORTHERN EXPRESS WEEKLY, Dec 16-22, 1998, Vol 8, No 50
Cary Renfro, COMMUNITY NEWS, October 1998
Nancy Sundstrom, NORTHERN EXPRESS WEEKLY, December 16, 1998

A Different Light Bookstore, New Books Weekly, Mar 17, 1998
Internet News
by Richard LaBonte

Three women growing up in a small Southern town define the boundaries of friendship, explore regions of the heart, and expand the frontiers of what women can and cannot do in this spunky, witty, glowing novel.

© Richard LaBonte, A Different Light Bookstore

Sonoma County Independent, Vol. 19 No. 50,
May 7-May 13, 1998
Santa Rosa CA, USA
By M.W.

"Era" is "aura" in lesbian-themed fiction, or at least it should be. A good piece of lesbian period fiction will make prevailing political and moral attitudes perfectly clear, but not over-whelming. By that standard The Geography of Women is a success, melding nuclear-age normalcy with small-town eccentricity. At their juncture, in southern Illinois, lives Laydia Spain O'Hara (say it out loud), a spunky tomboy. Fritscher has a talent for well-turned folk phrasing, no matter which way the characters' sex-preference leans. The novel is exuberant.

The Petaluma Post, No. 139, May 1998
Petaluma, CA USA
By Terry Solomon

HEADLINE: THE GEOGRAPHY OF WOMEN
A Boy Listens to His Mom's Own Stories

A feel-good novel of human wisdom, The Geography of Women is a romantic coming-of-age comedy. Telling her story at the close of the 20th century, Laydia Spain 0'Hara, the town innkeeper, untangles the past of 14 characters' lives tied together in the small southern Illinois town of Canterberry, from the 1950s of Elvis to the Camelot of JFK. Her sassy tale of faces unmasking, and of conflicts resolving, is a human journey about inventing one's own true self and revealing secret love. Judge this book by its cover, so evocative of strong yet vulnerable female power!

A storyteller in the spunky tradition of Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes, of Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle (Molly), of Cavedweller Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina (Bone), and of Allan Gurganus' Oldest Living Confederate Widow, tomboy Laydia Spain spins a 3-way tale of three lively female characters who are so alive that the reader forgets the author exists. Laydia Spain has a "voice" heard on every page. Terrific writing makes the novel as vivid as a screenplay. Perhaps because Geography's author found "voice" in his own mother's storytelling, this inclusive comic novel transcends the downside of issues. Women especially may embrace this smart novel. Its appealing plot and colorful characters will please commute readers, air-port travelers, and persons preferring fun storytelling novels for summer campsite or winter bedside.

In Geography's fast plot, the dark-skinned Jessarose takes off on the road to fame and fortune as a roadhouse blues singer. Jessarose, the emblem of love's best desires, defines the novel's celebration of new, alternative directions of love, family, and the human heart. "The human face is a limitless terrain that just pulls you right in... the geography of women is where nature itself takes course homeward bound, the long route or the short, the high road of the low." In her own personal geography, Laydia Spain joins the zany bleached Miss Lulabelle and the unforgettable Jessarose to mirror the vast social changes sweeping American concepts of the way women live their lives.

© Terry Soloman

MSN: Reading Forum Library
Internet
By Steve

HEADLINE: THE GEOGRAPHY OF WOMEN
A Boy Listens to His Mom's Own Stories

Telling her story at the end of the 20th century, Laydia Spain O'Hara, untangles the past of fourteen characters' lives tied together in a small southern Illinois town from the mid-1950s of Elvis throught the mid-1960s after Kennedy's Camelot. Her comic tales of faces unmasking--and conflicts resolving--is a human journey about coming of age and inventing one's self despite all gossip while keeping the torch of true love burning.

© Steve -- MSN: Reading Room Library

We The People, Vol 14, No. 6, June 1998
Santa Rosa, CA USA
By Chesley Springer

HEADLINE: THE GEOGRAPHY OF WOMEN
Pinwheel Fantasy and Spunk Create Good Reading

Jack Fritscher was a seminarian from age 14 until he was 24. He left the seminary with his bachelor's in English and philosophy just before his ordination as a priest. He was the founding San Francisco editor of Drummer magazine, a leather magazine for "homomasculine" men. He is a director and producer of more than 100 men's leather videos. He has appeared with Camille Paglia on TV for cultural analyses of the penis. He is the author of "Some Dance to Remember," a romantic, sexy and enthralling historical novel of gay life in San Francisco from the I 970s through 1982, with main character Ryan Stephen O'Hara.

And now he has written "The Geography of Women" and created a tomboy hero, Laydia Spain "Sport" O'Hara; "one a those plain people who if anythin good is gonna happen to them they got to make their own luck."

Names such as Laydia Spain's and Mizz Lulabelle Harms, not to mention Laydia's name for the local nuns, "Sisters a the Pinched Face a Jesus" (a name in "Some Dance..." for a group of drag queens) and the dialect in which the story is told seemed at first to suggest that the women of this geography might be the type you would have found in a Charles Ludlam play, a mix of melodramatic drag with a healthy dose of the ridiculous. Yet, as Fritscher draws you into his tale, the women become more believable, but still within the land of theatrical parable, or Canterberry, as it's called here.

The small town of Canterberry in southern Illinois is home to Laydia Spain, the bleach-blond Mizz Lulabelle Harms Apple, her husband Henry Apple, their copper-skinned "house gal" Jessarose Parchmouth, and red-headed Wilmer Fox, playboy and traveling salesman.

Laydia tells the story beginning with the summer when she was 15, and the lives and loves crisscross and cross again amongst these players through the year's.

Young Laydia falls in love with Jessarose, who is a few years older and works for Mizz Lulabelle as a house girl. The two young women spend precious few private moments together, enough for Laydia to learn more about that "thigh feeling" she has for Jessarose during a nude interlude on porch glider. Jessarose gains a friend and confidante in Laydia, and soon she's off to follow her dream and become a club singer. Laydia's postman father dies and she closes up their house then moves in and hires on with Lulabelle and her husband, Henry Apple, as Jessarose's replacement. She learns a lot more about Jessarose after stepping into her shoes there.

Laydia is far from being a hell-raising tomboy, though she certainly becomes a strong and sensible woman with a wry sense of humor. As a young woman she keeps house and takes care of babies. Not mendin fences or workin on cars. but caring for babies. She falls in love with a very beautiful singer. She pines for her. She travels by bus twice to try to locate the woman of her dreams. She stands up for what she believes in. She holds her own during the psychological warfare between husband and wife, Henry and Lulabelle. When Henry the pharmacist and man of the house remarks on her "kind," she retorts, "I stay put here, home, where I belong without maybe belonging, doin my job, meanin I may be the first one a my kind they ever saw aroun here, an the sight a me to them, an them to me, well, that's a kinda witness I give about the kinda customers, in your drugstore an out, who refuse to use vanishing cream."

After a dramatic climax, Laydia/Sport moves out of the Harms-Apple home and opens Canterberry's first boarding house, the O'Hara Inn, in the house she inherited from her father. As the head of her own business and household, she makes a few more firsts in town. From caring for the Apples' twin sons, she moves to caring for adults of her choosing; "real easy, my roomers began to mean so much to me like the Reverend Mister Jimmy Banks, who was between churches, just about like everybody who ever roomed with me was between some job or other, comm from someplace or goin someplace, sometimes not knowin which, sorta stalled, catchin their breath, all a them sleepin alone sawin wood behind their closed bedroom doors in my big ol house..."

Fritscher's control of the dialect is as keen as is his attention to the detail of language. Anyone unfamiliar with the word "catlicker" might raise an eyebrow when it is used for "Catholic." However, a quick consultation with the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang will put all doubts to rest and place the word precisely in the novel's place and time.

Fritscher has fun with visual puns such as "pullet-surprise" for Pulitzer prize. Fritscher' 5 writing is skillful and entertaining. When a party-goer starts singing off-key, one fellow explains to her, "Honey, on this piano I can play on the white keys, or I can play on the black keys, but you're singing between em in the cracks."

In the style of Carson McCullers, Fritscher ties the plot lines neatly together at the end with thematic summations. During a glorious evening party at her bed-and-breakfast (formerly rooming house), Sport reflects. on the turn of events saying, "But I got to believe that you get a chance, one fair chance at least, against all the bad chances an worse breaks, in that brief season between your birth an your dyin, when the enchanted summer night smiles, just like in the movies, an lets you take your life in your hands, an use all your big plans, if you only just don't lose your nerve, or your envisionin certainty, at the last moment an stumble an collide."

Later on the topic of her good fortune, Laydia/Sport says (and Fritscher invokes Flannery O'Connor with), "Your lucky stars' risin and convergin all depend on you to make even the smallest magic you heed come true." Aside from the sexual role-playing and cuckoldry, and, well, the incestuous twins, and the man who is impaled when he slides down onto a pitchfork handle, there is something charmingly innocent about Laydia Spain Sport O'Hara's story. It's a far cry from "clap your hands if you believe in fairies," hut not so far from "when you wish upon a star."

Fritscher's cinematic delight, like an other-worldly bright green colored piece of taffy, is a delicious and satisfying confectionery mix of subtle nature and pinwheel fantasy.

THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW,
"Reviewer's Bookwatch
Internet: www.execpc.com/~mbr/bookwatch/
by James A. Cox

A feel-good book of human wisdom, The Geography of Women is a fast-talking romantic comedy of three women growing up, dating, mating, and inventing themselves in a small southern town in the late 1950s where everybody minds everybody's business. The three friends switch parnters and dance, sing, and discover a witty solidarity in new ideas of career, family, home, and the human heart. Good-natured, entertaining, warm, funny, and lyrical, The Geography of Women is wonderful reading all the way through.

© James A. Cox & THE MIDWEST BOOK REIVEW

LAMBDA BOOK REPORT, August 1998, Vol. 6.13
By Lucy Jane Bledsoe

HEADLINE: Southern Illinois Dish

Buckle your seat belts and hang on for this fast-moving story from the queer heart of America. In the quirky and charming tradition of books like Edith Forbes' Alma Rose or Tom Spanbauer's The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon, Jack Fritscher captures a unique and utterly loveable voice in his new novel, The Geography of Women, A Romantic Comedy.

Laydia Spain O'Hara, telling her story from a small southern Illinois town called Canterberry, is eccentric enough that getting to know her takes a few pages of reading, but she's well worth the effort. Of herself, she says, "I was frank an I was fresh, an not bothered at all when those poodle-cut girls in high school laughed at my tryin to audition for the mixed glee club, singin what nobody ever expected to hear, a female version a 'Ol Man River.'"

As a young girl, Laydia Spain O'Hara falls in love with Jessarose. The first time they make love, Jessarose is wearing a man's shirt, "but what she did for oxford cloth no man could ever do." Laydia Spain is absolutely smitten, but Jessarose breaks her heart by leaving Canterberry in order to fulfill her dream of making it somewhere as a singer. Throughout the novel, occasional post-cards from Jessarose string Laydia Spain along and keep alive her hope that the love of her life will one day return.

However, as fiercely as she keeps the flame alive for Jessarose, Laydia Spain doesn't exactly sit around moping. The other woman in her life is Jessarose's one-time employer, who hires Laydia Spain to replace Jessarose. Kinky Lulabelle, rich by Canterberry standards, likes all manner of dress-up sex. "A couple times she has me dress up in Mister Henry's good blue wool suit an white shirt an tie and pretend I was smokin one of his curved pipes, 'Mirror Sham Pipe,' she called it, and she said I made her crazy, but I told her I didn't make her crazy; I found her that way."

The fact that Lulabelle is married to a pill-chomping pharmacist, and in love with a red-headed traveling salesman named Wilmer Fox, doesn't stop her from having her way with Laydia Spain as often as she can.

Both Laydia Spain and Lulabelle are shameless and have fierce tongues; the difference between them is that Laydia Spain has a heart big enough to accommodate loving an employer/lover who doesn't exactly treat her well. The two women, who hate each almost as much as they love each other; dish one another so severely you'll want to move to southern Illinois for front row seats. Eventually, though, the unequal power dynamic causes Laydia Spain to leave Lulabelle's house and bed.

The Geography of Women, perhaps a bit grandiosely named, can be read as a modern fable about the meaning of lust, faithfulness and taking life by the horns. None of the characters are particularly complex, but they don't need to be in a story that is about quick wits and getting what you want. No angst here: just full-pitch going for the goods in life. Because his narrator's voice rings true and goes straight to the heart, Fritscher does his novel a disservice with the consistent misspellings. The phonetic rendition of the dialect is distracting (for example, the word "of' is always spelled "a"). Why make the reader stumble over unconventional spellings when, using rhythm and syntax alone, Fritscher creates such a fabulously authentic voice? But then this is nit-picking at a novel that makes you want to give up nit-picking altogether and lighten up in the first place. As Laydia Spain O'Hara puts it, "Life's just from first to last a big joke too few crack."

The Geography of Women is a heart-warming story with a sharp bite. If good self-esteem is in short supply in queer fiction, Fritscher's characters don't have that problem. You have to love a character who declares at the end of her story, "Hey for hay! The only thing I can say about bein alive is, thank God, I'm not somebody else."

©Lambda Book Report & Lucy Jane Bledsoe

Lucy Jane Bledsoe's novel Working Parts, won the 1998 American Library Association Award for gay/lesbian/bisexual Literature.

SMALL PRESS REVIEW, May-June, Vol. 30 Nos. 5-6, Issues 304-305
By Matt Welter

May/June PICKS OF THE MONTH

The Geography of Women

© Matt Welter, SMALL PRESS REVIEW

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER Magazine
November/December 1998, Vol. 16 #6
By Nancy Sundstrom

A fast-talking and thoroughly delightful romantic comedy about life in a small Illinois town in the late 1950's, The Geography of Women is the 10th book and latest novel from the gifted author/essayist/photographer/film maker Jack Fritscher.

Yes, this is the same Jack Fritscher who is the country's foremost writer of gay erotic fiction, as evidenced by his winning the 1998 Small Press Book Award in Erotica for Rainbow County and Other Stories, a stunning collection of stories spanning the past 20 years. And yes, this is also the same Fritscher who penned Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera, a remembrance of his relationship with former lover Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the benchmark novels Some Dance to Remember and Leather Blues.

Geography, in many regards, might just be the best of Fritscher's three novels. Its small town setting, memorable characters and compassionate perspective have already invited comparisons to Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes and Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle, and place the author in the company of chroniclers like Mark Twain, William Faulkner and, more recently, Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina).

The central character is Laydia Spain O'Hara, who says, "...no smart alex comments, please, on accounta my Daddy, Big Jim O'Hara, won hisself a first place trophy in a stomach Steinway contest playin accordion at the Rainbow County fair the day I was born insteada bein home with my angel mama, her and me shovin, her tryin to get me born, and me tryin to get born, just so I could see what the world was all about."

Here, as he does in nearly every paragraph in the book, Fritscher displays the strength and economy of his writing. He presents an enormous amount of juicy detail in a compact amount of space with such fluidity that the book resembles one of Robert Altman's best tracking shots. Even the most peripheral of the 14 characters here are given the full treatment, which make the work a true ensemble piece, ripe for the stage or screen.

And what an ensemble it is. There's Laydia, a spunky, honest tomboy who knows in her heat and further south that she's "different from other girls in the town of Canterberry; the enigmatic "cinnamon girl" Jessarose, who is the object of Laydia's affections; the hilarious Mizz Lulabelle Harms, who gives the town plenty to gossip about; and Henry Apple, a pill-popping pharmacist, and traveling salesman Wilmer Fox, whose returns to the town come at the most untimely moments. Fritscher weaves their lives together in a funny, gentle and thoughtful tapestry that celebrates why every moment of life counts.

"The human face is a limitless terrain that just pulls you right in...the geography of women is where nature itself takes course homeward bound, the long route or the short, the high road or the low," writes Fritscher. Those who travel along with Lydia Spain, Jessarose and Miss Lulabelle will know early on that this is a journey well worth taking.

©Nancy Sundstrom, Independent Publisher

CHECKMATE Magazine, No. 25, November 1998
By Victor Terry

The tale is a satisfying one with a most satisfying closing peroration, courtesy of one of the aged nuns from the plot's far periphery. Our heroine, who is not one of the nuns, looks back in the 90s and tells of small town southern Illinois life in the 50s and 60s, one of those towns where everyone knows everyone else's business. She narrates in a dialect which may be off-putting at first (read it aloud and there will be no problem) but which is our heroines' authentic voice.

Geography is told in the first person by a young woman who realizes at an early age that she is different from other women, that she loves a woman. She determines she is going to make hew own way in her town, that the town must accept her on her own terms. She makes her own luck. Slow and stead wins the race.

There is much to enjoy in this romance.

©Victor Terry

NORTHERN EXPRESS WEEKLY,
December 16-22, 1998, Vol 8, No 50
By Nancy Sundstrom

Headline: Women in Search of Themselves
3 books explore woman's place in landscapes ranging from the heart to wildest Africa

"The human face is a limitless terrain that just pulls you right in...the geography of women is where nature itself takes course homeward bound, the long rout and the short, the high or the low." —Jack Fritscher, The Geography of Women

"Geography" is the operative term in three new and unique books about the emotional and physical quests of three different women in search of themselves.

A small Illinois Town, the exotic landscapes of Kenya and the wild west provide the back-drops for "The Geography of Women," "Rules of the Wild," and "Waltzing the Cat," respectively. Each features a strong heroine whose search for love challenges them to look within their own hearts, a distinct and vivid writing style, and an edgy sort of insight that lifts the work above some of the confines of the "journey of discovery" genre.

A fast-talking and thoroughly delightful romantic comedy about Midwestern life in the late 1950's, "The Geography of Women" is the 10th book and latest novel from the gifted author/essayist/photographer/film maker Jack Fritscher.

Yes, this is the same Jack Fritscher who taught film at Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo in the early 1970's, and then went on to become the country's foremost writer of gay erotic fiction. This is also the same Fritscher who penned "Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera," a remembrance of his relationship with his former lover, Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the epic tale of San Francisco life before the AIDS epidemic, "Some Dance to Remember."

"Geography," in many regards, is the best of Fritscher's three novels Its small town setting, memorable characters and compassionate perspective have already invited comparisons to Fannie Flagg's "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café" and Rita Mae Brown's "Rubyfruit Jungle," and placed the author in the company of chroniclers like Twain, Faulkner and, more recently, Dorothy Allison ("Bastard Out of Carolina").

The central character is natator Laydia Spain O'Hara, who says..."no smart alek comments, please, on accounta my Daddy, Big Jim O'Hara, won hisself a first place trophy in a stomach Steinway contest playin' accordion at the Rainbow County fair the day I was born insteada bein home with my angel mama, her and me shovin, her tryin to get me born, an me tryin to get born, just so I could see what the world was all about."

Here, as he does throughout the book, Fritscher displays the strength and economy of his writing. He presents an enormous amount of juicy detail so compactly that paragraphs like these flow like one of Robert Altman's best tracking shots. Even the most peripheral of the 14 characters here are given full treatment, and what an ensemble it is.

There's Laydia, a spunky, honest tomboy who know in her heart that she's "different"; Jessarose, the enigmatic "cinnamon girl" who is the object of Laydia affections, the hilarious femme fatale Mizz Lulabelle Harms; her husband, the pill-popping pharmacist Henry Apple; and traveling salesman Wilbur Fox, whose returns to town come at the most untimely moments. Fritscher weaves their lives together in a gently, funny tapestry that celebrates why every moment of every life counts.

***

(The reviewer/editor also reviews "Waltzing the Cat" by Pam Houston and "Rules of the Wild" by Francesca Marciano)

...When many of us last visited Kenya, was in the 1930's when Baroness Karen Blixen, a.k.a. Isak Dinesen, wrote about life on her farm in the Ngong Hills in "Out of Africa," which became an enormously successful film with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in 1985.

Things have changed a bit in documentary film maker Francesca Marciano's first novel, "Rules of the Wild,"....

***

...Pam Houston's funny and fine "Waltzing the Cat," the follow-up to her well-received first book, "Cowboys Are My Weakness," is a collection of 12 short stories all featuring Lucy O'Rourke, a 30-something landscape photographer whose work takes her from the Ecuadorian jungles to the beaches of Provincetown.

©Nancy Sundstrom, Northern Express Weekly

COMMUNITY NEWS, October 1998
by Cary Renfro

The publisher would like us to think that The Geography of Women is the next Rubyfruit Jungle or Bastard Out of Carolina. Well, it's not. However, it is a highly entertaining story of one woman's search for true love in southern Illinois in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Fast talking Laydia Spain O'Hara tells her own story in a country dialect that sounds a lot in my mind like Ellie-Mae Clampett. Jack Fritscher does a geat job of capturing small town rural life, and charms the reader with a cast of eccentrics that could only have been drawn from true life. If you're in the mood for a fast, fun read that sounds like it might be something Mark Twain would have written were he a lesbian living in this century, then by all means but this book.

© Cary Renfro & Community News

NORTHERN EXPRESS WEEKLY,
December 16, 1998
by Nancy Sundstrom

“The human face is a limitless terrain that just pulls you right in...the geography of women is where nature itself takes course homeward bound, the long route or the short, the high road or the low.”

–Jack Fritscher, “The Geography of Women”

“Geography” is the operative term in three new and unique books about the emotional and physical quests of three different women in search of themselves.

A small Illinois town, the exotic landscapes of Kenya and the wild west provide the backdrops for “The Geography of Women,” “Rules of the Wild,” and “Waltzing the Cat,” respectively. Each features a strong heroine whose search for love challenges them to look within their own hearts, a distinct and vivid writing style, and an edgy sort of insight that lifts the work above some of the confines of the “journey of discover” genre.

A fast-talking and thoroughly delightful romantic comedy and Midwestern life in the late 1950’s, “The Geography of Women” is the 10th book and latest novel from the gifted author/essayist/photographer/film maker Jack Fritscher.

Yes, this is the same Jack Fritscher who taught film at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo in the early 1970’s, and then went on to become the country’s foremost writer of gay erotic fiction. This is also the same Fritscher who penned “Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera,” a remembrance of his relationship with his former lover, Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the epic tale of San Francisco life before the AIDS epidemic, “Some Dance to Remember.”

“Geography,” in many regards, is the best of Fritscher’s three novels. Its small town setting, memorable characters and compassionate perspective have already invited comparisons to Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café” and Rita Mae Brown’s “Rubyfruit Jungle,” and placed the author in the company of chroniclers like Twain, Faulkner, and more recently, Dorothy Allison (“Bastard Out of Carolina”).

The central character here is narrator Laydia Spain O’Hara, who says... “no smart alek comments, please, on accounta my Daddy, Big Jim O’Hara, won hisself a first place trophy in a stomach Steinway contest playin’ accordion at the Rainbow County fair the day I was born insteada bein home with my angel mama, her and me shovin, her trying to get me born, and me trying to get born, just so I could see what the world was all about.”

Here, as he does throughout the book, Fritscher displays the strength and economy of his writing. He presents an enormous amount of juicy detail so compactly that paragraphs like these flow like one of Robert Altman’s best tracking shots. Even the most peripheral of the 14 characters here are given full treatment, and what an ensemble it is.

There’s Laydia, a spunky, honest tomboy who knows in here heart that she’s “different”; Jessarose, the enigmatic “cinnamon girl” who is the object of Laydia’s affections, the hilarious femme fatale Mizz Lulabelle Harms; her husband, the pill-popping pharmacist Henry Apple; and traveling salesman Wilbur Fox, whose returns to town come at the most untimely moments. Fritscher weaves their lives together in a gentle, funny tapestry that celebrates why every moment of every life counts.

© Nancy Sundstrom

Copyright 2007 by Jack Fritscher, Ph.D. & Mark Hemry - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED