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Brief Reviews-Fiction2
by Donna Dunlop

APTLY TITLED and skilfully framed, the 10 stories of Patricia Stone`s Close Calls (Cormorant, 191 pages, $14.95 paper) are linked by an attentive and neatly quirky narrative voice. They are also connected by an emotional landscape in which silence is never really silent. Through a series of delicately rendered adventures and narrow escapes, girls and women experience the ambiguities of life, other people, and themselves. Stone is very effective at conveying the physical experience of emotion, especially anxiety and dread. Apprehension and threat are almost always present and resonate through the body, which is the touchstone of truth in these stories. But sex, death, and power are the underlying themes. These young women have their wits about them, and that seems to explain why these are close calls rather than lost calls. Which is not to say they are invulnerable - sometimes luck plays a part in what happens. They dream a lot, too. One girl dreams of being loved the way a boy is loved, "just for being himself, just for being alive:` In this story, the boy accidentally drowns. Secrets are a form of power, and private places are essential to the cultivation of dreams and sanity. Stone maintains the tension between the desire for special, safe places, and the curious pull of life`s attractions, however threatening.

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