Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women is a commanding collection of short stories by Mary Rechner that I suspect will continue burrowing through my brain for a long time to come.
The stories are all about "ordinary" women, mostly with children, but each one stands on its own very individual merits. Rechner uses a variety of events, including a trip to the dentist, a charity poetry slam at a strip bar, and an alumnae panel discussion, to set her protagonists to musing on motherhood, marriage, femininity, sexuality, and self-image.
These are not feel-good stories -- they have some sharp edges to them. Which is what should give the collection real staying power.
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Nine Simple Patters is the perfect gift book for all your 30- or 40-something girlfriends. I love the vintage sassy cover! It is also a beautifully-made book, with thick, rough-cut pages and French flaps.
This is the first book put out by Portland publisher Propeller Books, the book side of Propeller Magazine, a quarterly lit, art, film, and culture internet magazine. Propeller Books only publishes one book a year. The fall 2011 book is A Simple Machine, Like the Lever, a novel by Evan P. Schneider.