Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders

Stories

Book - 2012
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"These sixteen stories by the much-celebrated Alix Ohlin illuminate the connections between all of us--connections we choose to break, those broken for us, and those we find and make in spite of ourselves."--P. [4] of cover.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2012
ISBN: 9780307743794
0307743799
Branch Call Number: F Ohl

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ksoles Dec 24, 2012

"So the important thing to know is that she was miserable." Thus begins Alix Ohlin's impressive short story collection, which offers a brutal but lovely look at relationships and uses acerbic wit to combine cruelty and enticement. In "Signs and Wonders," love fluctuates from deadening stasis to destructive chaos and back. yet, in between external circumstance and conflicting individual needs rests glimpses of self-sacrifice and intimacy. Characters find themselves drawn to marriage and then stuck; they struggle to escape while also feeling compelled to stay put.

Balancing pathos and levity, Ohlin also dynamically captures the intricate emotions of parenthood, a relationship no less difficult than marriage. When a man has a heart attack in "Three Little Maids," his spiteful ex-wife, resented new girlfriend and hostile daughter gather in the waiting room. Ohlin writes, “But each of them needed him: to push against, to argue with, to care for. Years and years could pass and this fact would never change,” perfectly capturing the scene's tension.

Although the collection can seem like one divorce story after another, Ohlin displays a formal inventiveness and uses just enough inventiveness to create excellently crafted stories.

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