Bette Pesetsky

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Doris Grumbach

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I admire the strong silences that exist among the words, between the sentences, and hover everywhere over the events in Bette Pesetsky's Stories Up to a Point…. These are original and unusual stories … [in which we notice both] the bleakness of her vision and her barren prose. The only difficulty I had with these poignant pieces is that her prose leaves large air holes through which, if one happens to put the book down in mid-story, memory escapes. Then there is no shortcut back into the story: you must start over….

[Pesetsky's] is wholly a feminine vision…. She is preoccupied with women's lives, their particular brand of hopelessness, their acceptance of their hopeless futures. Her women are shadowy, silhouettes rather than rounded and developed, and her situations sketched in with the thinnest lines. Before you have time to grow comfortable in them, you are out at the end. Your tenure has been too short to permit the people and their circumstances to stick in memory. (p. 672)

Doris Grumbach, "The Extra Skin That Language Can Give: Recent Collections of Short Stories," in The Georgia Review (copyright, 1982, by the University of Georgia), Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, Fall, 1982, pp. 668-74.∗

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The New Yorker