The Cost of Lunch, Etc: A Booklist Review

The Cost of Lunch, Etc.

By Deborah Donovan
July 1st, 2014

Piercy’s (Sex Wars, 2005) latest short stories focus, as do her many novels, poetry collections, and earlier stories, on powerful female characters—women who are not always right, or sympathetic, or admirable, but definitely strong. The mother in “Saving Mother from Herself” is a hoarder coerced by her daughter into relinquishing her precious “collection” to the dump or local resale shops—and then changes the locks on her house, avoids her phone, and hits the yard-sale circuit with renewed vigor. A teenager in “Going over Jordan” stands up to her parents, gradually breaking away from the stifling confinement of their fundamentalist church. In “She’s Dying, He Said,” a woman looks back on the year in her childhood when she had German measles followed by rheumatic fever, and the doctor and her family gave her up for dead—except for her vigilant Jewish grandmother, who warded off the demons and nursed her back to health. Piercy homes in on her characters, mixing just the right amount of humor into her always insightful take on imperfect human relationships, in their many guises.

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