Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi 'Who I Was Supposed To Be'

By W.A. Larson

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999: 

Who I Was Supposed To Be
by Susan Perabo
(Simon & Schuster, hardcover, $20)

Maybe you know baseball. If so, you may recognize the name Susan Perabo as the first woman to play NCAA baseball -- though that's not likely to be your reason to pick up this graphically honest book of short stories. This is Perabo's debut collection of short fiction. They are probably arranged in the preferred reading order, but I've never been one to read short story collections sequentially. The first story I read was "Counting the Ways." If you were not at all affected by or interested in Princess Diana's death, this story will still reach you. The couple in the story have an intricate set of rules that dictate how their relationship functions. But now that Diana is dead, can they resolve their deep monetary conflict over what to do with her dress?

If "Counting the Ways" doesn't work for you, perhaps Alfred (and his sidekick Bruce Wayne) in "Retirement" will draw you in. "Even as a kid, I found the TV Batman almost unbearably pompous and shallow," Susan Perabo states. For her, Alfred is the most intriguing character. This story is amazingly quiet, bleak, and perfectly fitting.

"Reconstruction" might become a film. Amnesia while unexpected can be convenient. Martin Baker feels it's the best way to prevent the divorce that would end his 30-year marriage. Will it work? Both "Explaining Death to the Dog" and "Gravity" are about discovering how to deal daily with a loss, which leads to unexpected conclusions.

All the stories will grab you, yet if I were to pick a best story, it might be "The Greater Grace of Carlisle." The story is familiar, achingly bittersweet. The title story, about growing pains, is brought on by a horrific chain of events.

These stories will touch, unsettle, and haunt you. As explained by Perabo, "...Each one of these characters -- despite their strange circumstances -- are mirrors and shadows of us all, that they too are spooked by love, crippled by insecurity, desperate for change, and thrilled by possibility."


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