open by Lisa Moore (Anansi), 215 pages, $24.95 cloth. Rating: NN
Newfoundlander Lisa Moore's intense short stories are full of attention-getting tricks: quick changes in setting, sexual images that come out of the blue, herky-jerky prose rhythms. But before a few of the stories have unfolded, the ploys have eclipsed the characters, the settings blur and the reader feels a little bit lost.
Moore does have her major themes -- marriages gone stale, the small lies that wind up being a big deal, wished-for infidelities -- and they're evoked in some surprising settings. In the story called Melody, the dentist boyfriend of the narrator pulls a tooth in a squirm-inducing episode. Another story, The Stylist, suggests that there's nothing like a little hair colour to heal the heart.
But it's writing that is almost too self-consciously crafty. It feels like every scattershot short sentence is there to make an impression, not to drive the story forward.
Some people will love this stuff. It has its sensual and startling qualities, and Moore's a writer who will be much talked about. But it all feels forced to me. SUSAN G. COLEWrite Books at email@example.com