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Don't Explain

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Novelist, poet, and essayist, Gomez now brings out a memorable first collection of short stories. The futuristic, all-too-plausible "Lynx and Strand," in which the government is a corporation, satirizes at the same time the theories of behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner and antiporn legislator Catherine MacKinnon. In "Houston," fans of Gomez's The Gilda Stories (Firebrand, 1991) will be pleased to find Gilda, a 200-year old vampire who doesn't kill her prey, still on the prowl in a dystopian future where, owing to environmental degradation, few people "wear the crown of silver" of old age. "Grace A." is Gomez's tribute to her own grandmother, Grace, a stern-seeming Wampanoag-African American, reluctantly yet dutifully caring for her great-granddaughter. Gomez's women are savvy and bold, with a sense of ancestry and history, and they forge deep connections to other women. Eroticism infuses their daily activities, but although these women are passionate, they rule their lives with their heads. The author's compassion, affection, and respect for her characters is infectious. Recommended for all fiction collections.‘Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ

Seven traditional short stories, a fantasy novella and a new story about the black lesbian vampire Gilda (introduced in Gomez's Lambda Award-winning novel The Gilda Stories) make up this sexy, eclectic collection. Often set in the Boston area, the more traditional stories feature women (usually of color, usually lesbian) brought together by friendship or desire. In the title story, a Boston waitress in the 1950s gets to serve her idol, Billie Holiday, then later bonds with a potential new lover over their mutual admiration for the singer. In "Water With the Wine," a 50-year-old African American academic confides in her "high femme, straight girl" best friend when a tryst with a younger, white student turns into love. The SF novella "Lynx and Strand" depicts a future government that "monitors every nuance of public social interaction" and the lengths to which a bisexual ad-woman and her "empath" lover must go to escape it. In "Houston," a Gilda story, the vampire meets the witch Archelina and acquires a male companion. Fluidly written and briskly paced, even when they seem little more than erotic sketches, these stories demonstrate an impressive, wide-ranging imagination. (July)

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