by Beveriey Daurio
IN I HIS BRIFF prefance - to Hearts Wild, the editor Wayne Tefs promises -thered hot flush of lust mid the ",hire hot scald of pain," the"betrayal...[and] ecstasy... that plague and Vitalize love andlovers," leading the reader to expect a passionate, sensual collection of the sort one might wrap in paper embossed with pink heartsand give as a present oil Valentine`s Day. The 13 stories in Hearts Wild sevenby men, six by women – are arranged antiphonaIIy, ill a call-and-responsepattern of man/woman/ man\woman.The anthology opens with the sad and lovely "The Man Who Saw BeautyEverywhere," by David Arnason, in which Li man sIowly loses not onlyhis Wife but his capacity forenjoyment. Arnason`s piece sets a melancholic toile that is rarely exceeded or amended in the anthology. Theseare mainly lyrical stories of disappointment, of - coming to terms withthe loss of love and the immuntabiIity of the past. Characters have affairs midfeel oro-lid, bleak, and guilty; the\, lose and their balance; human interrelation is a forlorn - anddangerous psychological terrain \\,here the decisions taken me wrong, andcertainly costly.
often wrong, The narrating voices ofthese men and women are lonely. Even the most stylistically experimental of thestories -Cecelia Frey`s suspenseful parable "The Goldfish Bowl"and Aritha van Herk`s delightful feminist retelling of the fairy tale "ThePrincess and the Pea," "The Pea; or," -- featurewomen with uncommunicative husbands and no one to talk to. In Edna Alford`ssearing "Sugar," a woman whose husband ran off on the evening of herparents` 50th wedding anniversary stays sane by focusing on the glitter ofsugar spilt on the floor; in Sandra Birdsell`s elegant "PhantomLimbs," two women who loved the same alcoholic man find no solace in theirshared pain; in Patrick Lane`s haunting "Where`s the Baby, Rose?" aneighbour reluctantly watches over a woman with severe post-partumdepression who keeps abandoning her baby outside in the cold.
HeartsWild is an extremely likeablebook of strong, well-made short stories, creditably compiled andthoughtfully arranged. But there is not a wild heart in it anywhere.
Where HeartsWild is longon psychological analysis and short on amorous electricity, The Girl Wants To, Subtitled Women`s Representations of Sex and the Body,is gritty,explicit, and eclectic.
The editor Lynn Crosbie has amassed a groundbreakingcollection of cartoon strips, stories, novel excerpts, laments, poems, songlyrics, playlets, photo -narratives, and drawings dealing with sex, by adiverse group of Canadian and American Women, from the famous --Xaviera Hollander, Nicole Brossard, and Erica Jong -- to womenappearing in print for the first time. What Unites the pieces --and there certainly is no unanimity of approach to this intimate Yet Publicsubject -- is their rambunctious energy. The pages give off afurious, frictional heat.
TheGirl Wants To contains fine works toonumerous to mention individually, but among the highlights are:RobertaGregory`s "Bitchy Bitch Gets Laid," a hilarious cartoon depiction ofa one-night-stand-from-hell; Kathy Acker`s ribald,intelligent, political "New York City in 1979"; Gigi the GalaxyGirl`s satire of consumerism, combining kitchen appliances and onanism;Patricia Seaman`s palimpsest found cartoon, "I, Mary," that revels inthe ironies of male/female subtexts in conversation; and Robyn Cakebread`smorbidly gorgeous fiction.
Several of the lesbian writers, includingBeth Brant, Rebecca Brown, and Mary Louise Adams, relax confidently intolyrical eroticism, but the heterosexual women`s work in The Girl Wants To is less about sensuality than it is about power.Evelyn Lau`s "Mercy," about a Young woman`s dominatrix routine with amiddle-aged dentist, and Barbara Gowdy`s "We So Seldom Look onLove," about a woman who masturbates using corpses, for example, are rawwith the exposure of power dynamics in sex. The prevailing tone is brutally anti-romantic.
In her introduction, Crosbie suggests that "[women`s] movement -- from sexual object tosubject -- is already Well Linder way," but there is littleevidence of this in the book. From the cover drawing -- a heroic,woman in a merry-widow corset painting a semi-cubist self-portrait-- on through, it is, for the most part, women`s physicality that is self-reflexivelyforegrounded. Heterosexual women seeking to escape the "male gaze"and delight, for a change, in representations of men`s sensuality will bedisappointed.
This is not a book to he read at onesitting; its kaleidoscopic shifts of attitude, form, and mood make it perfectfor browsing, and its compulsive, Open exploration will bring readers back to itspages again and again.