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[whitespace] All reviews by Christine Brenneman (CB) and Michelle Goldberg (MG)

book cover Extremities: Stories
By Kathe Koja
Four Walls Eight Windows, 200 pages, $20

Kathe Koja's collection of short stories, Extremities, is a sinister and scary but always riveting glimpse into the lives of several seemingly normal individuals. The author's blending of quotidian existence with utter horror keeps the reader transfixed; what happens to her characters undermines any semblance of the way things should be. In "The Neglected Garden," a desperate woman ties herself to the backyard fence with barbed wire after her husband dismisses her. Mysteriously, grass grows between her toes and a flower sprouts in her mouth. Her husband is so incensed at the absurdity of the situation that he eventually offs her with weedkiller. Koja's stories leave one feeling intensely uncomfortable and marveling at the imagination of someone who could come up with such twisted fantasies. (CB)

book cover The Daiquiri Girls
By Toni Graham
University of Massachussetts Press, 198 pages, $24.95

Winner of the AWP Award for Short Fiction, Toni Graham's debut, The Daiquiri Girls, brilliantly illuminates the disheartening and touching stories of four different women living in San Francisco. Each tale stands on its own, but Graham weaves themes throughout the book in such a cohesive manner that Daiquiri Girls reads like a novel. Haphazard sexual collisions and alcoholic tendencies serve as the common ground for her characters. In "Jump!" Zoe wrestles with insomnia, fends off an obscene phone caller and drinks brandy in her coffee, all the while trying to escape her responsibilities. The attention the author pays to the little details of San Francisco gives the book an authenticity that will thrill local readers. (CB)

Michelle Tea The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America
by Michelle Tea
Semiotext(e)/ Smart Art Press, 185 pages, $8

Local spoken-word sensation Michelle Tea's memoir is a guilty pleasure, kind of trashy but so addictive I stayed up all night to finish it. Told in a sparkly, slangy voice perfect for its subject, Passionate Mistakes is the story of Tea's transformation from Boston goth girl to radical baby dyke to feminist hooker and beyond. Hurtling through identities, Tea takes all the contradictions of contemporary girlhood and exaggerates them to tragicomic proportions even as the book's irony and aching sweetness make it (scarily) universal. (MG)

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From the January 18, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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