The Elizabeth Stories (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Although Isabel Huggan’s The Elizabeth Stories was published in Canada in 1984, it has just been released in the United States. Critics and reviewers have welcomed this collection of frank, intimate stories; indeed, there is much to praise in the author’s first published volume. The eight stories here range widely in length and structure, but all center on the author’s alter ego, Elizabeth Kessler. Like most protagonists of the Bildungsroman, Elizabeth is sensitive and misunderstood by adults in general and by her parents in particular, but unlike many others, she is often an unlikable, even nasty child. Not until midway through high school, when she blossoms on the basketball court and begins to like herself, does she become a fully sympathetic character. Herein lies one of the clues to the stories and perhaps the central message of the book.
Treating this collection of stories as a kind of loosely structured novel is a difficult trap to avoid, since the stories are arranged in chronological order and form a nearly seamless portrait of the artist as a young woman. The short-story sequence is by no means a novel idea, having been practiced by writers as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, H. E. Bates, and V. S. Pritchett. Connecting stories this closely, however, pushes the form to its limits and creates some of the stresses that weaken particularly the longer stories.
The shortest and in many...
(The entire section is 2005 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Booklist. LXXXIII, April 1, 1987, p. 1177.
Kirkus Reviews. LV, March 1, 1987, p. 326.
Library Journal. CXII, April 1, 1987, p. 163.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 2, 1987, p. 3.
Ms. XV, June, 1987, p. 18.
The New York Times. May 23, 1987, p. 11.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, July 12, 1987, p. 11.
The New Yorker. LXIII, August 31, 1987, p. 97.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, April 3, 1987, p. 63.
Time. CXXX, July 27, 1987, p. 67.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, August 2, 1987, p. 9.
(The entire section is 63 words.)