Thursday, February 5, 2015

Isle of Youth: Stories by Laura Van Den Berg

Laura Van Den Berg's stories have a quirky feel much like  Rivka Galchen's stories. Characters are "at sea," weathering one emotional disturbances or another. All of the stories feature disappearances or marital break-ups.

In "Opa-Locka" a pair of sisters form a detective agency but seriously undermine their business when they acts recklessly. They track and then lose a client's husband. The incident weirdly mirrors their own childhood when their father disappears.

In "Lessons," a group of outlaws runaway from their sheltered existence.Dana takes her younger brother, who has Asperger-like symptoms, with her on a crime spree and later regrets the decision. 

In "Antarctica," a troubled young wife has left her husband without explanation. Her scientist husband dies in an explosion in Antarctica

The daughter of a magician in "The Great Escape," has always believed that her father had disappeared during a magic trick. The truth is far worst and more ordinary. Facing theft charges, the girl tries a disappearing trick of her own. 

Clearly, Van Den Berg's primarily deal with is  abandonment. Dana in "Lessons" is afraid the "gorillas" will leave Pinky behind. In "Opa-Locka," the sisters are still recovering from their father's disappearance.

A second motif is a crumbling marriage. The women in "Acrobat," "Isle of Youth" are each in a failed marriage; in its disintegration they come to a moment of enlightenment.

Laura Van Den Berg's latest work is a novel called Find Me