Bette Pesetsky

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Bill Greenwell

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Care by Women, the best of Bette Pesetsky's Stories up to a Point is … a skeletal sketch of a marriage, the arrival, adolescence and later life of three daughters, their relationship with their mother, their father's desertion—he'd wanted a son. It is but nine neat pages long (sorry, short). That it could so easily be decked with flesh, knocked into an excellent novel, is irrelevant. The scratches on its surface are exceptionally skilful. This first collection, with its admirably ambiguous title, contains fifteen tight, slightly antiseptic snippets, concerned with the loss of a lover, love, or both. Care by Women is significantly the most striking, as one of only two told in the third person. Pesetsky's speakers, cool, almost emotionless, sound too improbably similar, too mannered to be individual. Fractured in form, some pieces are maddeningly insubstantial. To snatch at a point and miss is agreeably tantalising: not to glimpse one is, well, pointless.

Bill Greenwell, "Novel Tales," in New Statesman (© 1982 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 104, No. 2685, September 3, 1982, p. 22.∗

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