Way Up

by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
ISBN: 0864923686

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A Review of: Way Up
by Clara Thomas

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's stories are set in situations and characters of the real, familiar, daily world. But hers stay rooted there. There is no transcendent closing of the circle, reaffirming hope and the spiritual. Her characters are of the earth, earthy and totally believable in their particular dilemmas. Her stories are weighted toward the dark, not the light, and their effect is completely without an infusion of comfort. The effect of reading them consecutively is rather like enduring a series of hard knocks on the head, interspersed from time to time with nods of appreciation.
"Falling Out", for instance, follows James and Meredith as they go to the hospital where Meredith is to have an abortion. Both are in misery and neither can connect with the other. To Meredith, the abortion must happen. James prays frantically that Meredith may change her mind and keep the baby, all the time knowing that his prayers are useless. Their ordeal coincides with the lift-off of the space shuttle Challenger. As Meredith returns to the post-op ward, she is greeted with the news of Challenger's explosion. In James's truck, going home, she says: "I don't want to see you again. He said, I thought not." Unremitting bleakness with no trace of sentimentality: "James went home and went to work and went home in a trance-like state, which really wasn't so out of the ordinary." This story, and the entire collection, can turn the reader away in a complex mixture of revulsion and pity or, equally likely, lead to a grudging recognition of its rightness given each story's circumstances. In either case a compulsion to read on is rooted in sincere admiration for Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's command of closely observed detail, her imaginative skill, and her unflinching determination to follow where it leads her.

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