Residual Desire

by Jill Robinson
ISBN: 1550502654

Post Your Opinion
A Review of: Residual Desire
by Michael Greenstein

Jill Robinson's fourth collection of fiction, Residual Desire, contains a dozen short stories. "Her heart was like an off-kilter washing machine" appears in "Dj Vu", Robinson's second story. If Robinson's fiction is not overly "kiltered", it appeals more to the heart because her characters are given more space to develop.
In the opening story the narrator visits her aging father and concludes: "Growth and decay ... What an odd mixture. Nothing in its original form." This odd mixture of growth and decay characterizes most of the stories in Residual Desire. The negatives in "nothing in its original form" and "You Are Not Yourself Right Now" yield positive results. A rural resignation dominates these stories: in "Dj Vu" Iris settles for the lesser of two evils after she visits her ex-husband and realizes that she can never go home again. Tears of residual desire find their objective correlative in cleansing Kleenex. After the "dj vu," Iris's tearful eyes awaken to the truth: "Love didn't always conquer all, not by a long shot. And no amount of magic could truly have cleansed the angry, resentful, hurtful old life she had made them lead, the one with hostility plastered thick and hard on every surface. Not a chance. Not a hope. She deserved anything that happened to her. And she had better be willing to face the music." She faces the music in just the right notes of those parallel negatives in a minor key characteristic of Alice Munro's early short stories.
Pets and people get brutalized and buried in Robinson's fiction. Homoerotic desire surfaces in "Midnight At the Oasis".

"She feels fingers titillate her, duck inside her and out again, fluttering, trace lightly up to her breasts and down again. Once the orgasm subsides she finally admits to herself that she has felt the beginning of this arousal before. The almost audible buzz when their arms touched as they sat together on the garden swing and the golden hair on Maidie's warm brown forearm brushed against hers."

Residual desire arises from a mixture of attraction and repulsion to an old flame. The narrator in the final story visits her lover of yesteryear and concludes: "I have grown scar tissue on a colourful assortment of wounds. I have wrestled most of my demons to the ground." The uncanniness of residual desire assures us that most, but not all, demons have been exorcized. Wrestling with fiction keeps us on and off kilter; sometimes, even for Don Quixote, the scars and demons are no laughing matter.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us