a compendium of skirts

by Phyllis Moore

This is a collection of eight short stories beautifully and clearly written. These stories talk about crazy relationships, lost loves, and friendships. She is very succinct in her descriptions, which are outrageously funny at times. My highlighter hit the pages often to bring out this description or that. A few things are apparent. This author has a pink fetish. This reader used a pink highlighter. Coincidence? This author likes to fit people together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. This author enticed me to read her book by putting "compendium" in the title which forced me to go look it up. She taught me something new. She showed me something I already knew but in a different way. It is simply light and refreshing. I liked this book. This book is good.

"The Things They Married" follows a woman who goes from one failed marriage to the next. "The bride grew tired of marrying men...", so she married a stick, when that gave out she married a rock. When the rock "crumbled in her hands", she married a bee. "The bee stings her over and over again, but only because he loves her. He loves this girl, this thing, who, time and time again, refuses, ever, to learn". In essence, she settled. But that would be boring to say it that way wouldn't it? Shades of Suzanne Vega appear in her writing. Also, a pink crinoline skirt is involved.

"a compendium of skirts" is about the complexities of a group of women sitting around the kitchen table talking about life and love. "Corrine looked on in silence as the girls reorganized her life for her...she doesn't need a skirt. She needs a divorce" but for Corrine, she looked up at the sky, and it was raining fish and she was full of wonder.

"The Language Event" speaks of a woman reuniting with the brother she hasn't seen for 16 years. They go to the Indy 500 in a pink camper. She is the "queen of comet" and he is always in some kind of trouble. She is dreaming of a "little pink reunion...all Andy Griffith and sunshine" before returning to her "sparkling white wine three O'clock life". What they find is something else.

"Once in Hamburg" is an adventure story girlfriend trip to europe. The pair is an odd couple if you ever saw one. One is all beautiful, vivacious, wild and peanutbutter. The other is average, naive, sewing kits and pennies. Best of friends come what may. The peanut butter is integral to the story. So is the skirt. So is the potholder, which is, get this, pink.

"Red Light" is not about stopping. It is not about following the rules. It is about change. It is about taking chances. It is about risk. It is about letting go of the image of swans. It is about running through the hallways screaming to your friend cause you want to share the excitement of a book you've just found "HEY ROB!, you gotta READ this!". It is about french fries.

"The History of Pandas" delves into the relationship between two sisters from the point of view of the narrator. Doris Day is important. Bright and Shiny jacket cover figures prominently. The narrator is DD#1. She is the Miss Day as "black exclamation point" and "catwoman on her way to church". Narrator sister is DD#2. "the geometry of happiness". She teaches preschool, is adored by her sister, and the children "swarm around her like pink happy planets". But also...the narrator slips out, sis is also DD#3. "blizzard white. tundra. frozen completely solid". This is something that only a sister can see, beneath the "happy isosceles triangles" and "bouncing parallelograms". Yes, you must read this story, because...you want to know? right?

"Rembrandt's Bones" is morbid and yet not. It is the story of an art teacher coming to grips with the suicide of one of her students (What to do with her less than stellar midterm? And should her parents know she barely paid attention? and yet...her eyes DID light up over Rembrandt's use of pulverized bone) and the death of her aunt (who kept the Encyclopedia Brittanica on her kitchen counter ready for action, believed in the power of sugar, and wore pink slacks).

"Big Pink and Little Minkie" paints a routine daily bus ride into something extraordinary. It is a christmas present slowly being unwrapped. "The red has bled completely out, and for the first time I begin to see how easy it is, how quick it can happen. For the world to take a turn for the pink."

Life is life. It's all in how you view it. Ya know, after reading this book, the world HAS taken a turn for the pink. Get thee to a library. Check it out.

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