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[whitespace] Picks by Elizabeth Costello (EC) and Jessica Ylvisaker (JY)

The End of the Class War

The End of the Class War
By Catherine Brady
Calyx Books, 241 pages, $13.95

Catherine Brady's first collection of short stories, The End of the Class War, delves insightfully into the lives of working-class Irish-American women as they struggle with the restrictions of class and gender. The heroines of these stories are often poised on the edge of self-realization, as if they are just about to recognize their own complicity in their second-class citizenship. Not all of the women improve on the lives they were given by circumstance, but all of these stories express an unsentimental vision of hope. While some pieces are less well developed than others, Brady has a particular knack for endings, an ability to draw disparate elements of the story together into a unified whole. The best of these stories--"Don't Run," "The Lives of the Saints," "Wild, Wild, Horses" and "Rat"--echo the frankness of Grace Paley and the perspicaciousness of Alice Munro. (EC)

Hangover Soup

Hangover Soup
By Louise Redd
Little Brown, 272 pages, $23

The one disappointment in Hangover Soup is that it never delivers the magical recipe for the titular cure. In all other respects, the book is a marvelously paced, introspective tour of narrator Faith Evers' late 20s. Faith is happily employed as a tutor to UT-Austin's "student-athletes" and happily married to Jay Evers, who is both doing what he loves as a jazz-radio DJ and being an unrepentant, incorrigible alcoholic. Faith plunges into her personal resources for the strength and patience to help her tutees pass their classes and to keep her failing marriage together. But life conspires against her (as it tends to do), and Faith is forced to realize that her grit and determination are not the only forces at play. Faith is a thoroughly charming subject whose self-understanding and perceptiveness are keen but not unrealistically or gratingly infallible. She's "real people," in a most articulate and endearing way. (JY)

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From the August 16, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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