Silk: A Collection of Stories
Grace Dane Mazur
ISBN 1-57129-028-1 1998 paper $15.95
Sadi Ranson, Editorial Director, Lumen Editions:
“This first time author came to me years ago when I worked for another house. I read her book then and felt it should be published. We held back, with the usual publisher’s fear that short-stories won’t sell, and it’s her first book. But over the months, which turned into years, the book haunted me. It was so beautifully rendered, so evocative, and sensuous and smart. Everything a book should be. How could we NOT publish it. In time, I left the other publisher to start Lumen Editions (a division of Brookline Books) and this was the first book in the series. We sold out in the first six months, received stellar reviews and immediately went back to press. Look for more work from Grace Dane Mazur. She is just the type of new talent an editor dreams about.”
“In this absorbing collection of short stories, newcomer Mazur does an excellent job of intertwining the emotions of her characters, mostly young women. In the title story, for instance, Suzanna becomes so involved in the art of wearing silk and of working with silkworms in her lab that she overlooks the rest of her life. Many of the 11 stories involve a young art student named Cass. As she takes Cass from Singapore to Paris and has her pose nude for her Aunt Marika in ‘Backlighting’, Mazur creates memorable scenes that definitely evoke the senses. An intensely felt collection; highly recommended for public libraries.”-Library Journal”Many of the stories in this collection are charged with erotic energy, especially those that feature a young American called Cass. We first meet Cass in ‘Privacy’, when she is ten years old, spending the summer with her grandparents in the French countryside. Cass’ sense of her own sexuality is awakened by her exotic aunt, Marika, a painter. Years later, when Cass is in Paris to study physics, posing as a model for Marika precipitates an affair with Stasek, Marika’s lover. Cass’ sexual development, through three marriages, in fact, is explored in the stories that follow; her personal journey unfolds sometimes in the first person and sometimes in the third. With its sensual imagery, foreign flavors, and layered themes, this is a richly textured collection.”
“Mazur takes her readers on a journey around the world in 11 often subtly connected short stories that are meant to appeal to the senses and the gypsy spirit. In Singapore she evokes the smell of orange trees; in Paris the griffins and monkeys perched on an old cathedral; in Boston the “beginning pulses of the wind” as a hurricane begins. Mazur records the sensation of the present while each of her characters, in a distinct voice, records the past that surrounds it. The clever nuances of the stories (particularly those involving the figure of Cass) are immensely pleasing. When Cass is modeling nude for her Aunt Marika in “Backlighting,” the reader understands both the significance of their relationship and the complexity of the younger woman’s attachment to France as related in “Privacy,” the first story in the collection. The apex of Cass’s journey occurs in “The Lights of Love”; she is in Singapore, recounting her French odyssey for Max, the amorous husband of a close friend. Here, Cass’s dialogue is skillfully crafted to reply to questions that were left unanswered at the end of “Foreign Things.” Mazur’s writing is generously descriptive and lyrical and her dialogue is subtly apt, but most of all it is rare to find a collection that works as coherently as this.